Prepare, always prepare. Take risks, but do your homework first. 8 times out of 10, you’ll probably fail, but embrace it. You’ll be better for it.
If you’re frozen in fear of failing, it is going to hold you back. One of your biggest enemies is fear. Fear of lack of knowledge, fear of losing, fear of looking stupid… Whatever it is, define it and then punch it in the face. If you’re on a path to making honest attempts at solutioning and it takes you 1,000 tries to get there, get there. Make sure you’re hydrated along the way though. It might be a little unpleasant, but I haven’t seen anyone die from trying yet.
It’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to hit it out of the park the first time or even the 20th time you design something. All egos aside, all angles need to be looked at and explored before the right solution is found. The key is don’t stop.
“Failure is success in progress”– Einstein
Finding the right solution is like training for a marathon. You have to progressively train on a consistent schedule in order to advance to the next level. There are no short cuts. There will be missteps and total crashes along the way, but don’t stop. You can’t stop. Embracing the setbacks and wrong steps will eventually narrow down your approach to a successful solution.
“Failing isn’t bad when you learn what not to do”
I think most of us learn the hard way, I know I do. I pretty much have to take a wrong turn everywhere I go before I memorize the path. I recently had to learn a new CMS platform and had to build and rebuild pages 100 times using every component in every wrong way until I broke the pages. For some odd reason it’s easier to remember the mistakes, probably so we know how to survive them if we ever meet again. Sometimes you just have to break it to know it’s full capabilities (and hope you haven’t crashed the entire site).
Failing is part of your overall experience. Don’t let it completely bruise your confidence, take it as a conscious learning moment and then move on. Fails are about attaining information and empowering yourself to make better decisions. In the last few years of my design career, I’ve advanced into situations where I have to make more decisions. I always try to do my homework to lessen the anxiety of making the wrong decision, but sometimes you just have to walk right into the flame. Sometimes you have to take risks and fall a bit, but it will get you a little more information to take you to the next right step and then closer to a successful solution.
My team and I have recently been working on some new promotional design solutions in an effort to provide a richer customer engagement. We’ve looked at some data from the last 6 months, compared other theoretical successes and failures and discussed these observations with different teams who are also testing, and out of this we have drafted up to 20 different solutions. One could potentially be better.
There are several issues we are trying to solve in a single space, which could be a problem in itself. Maybe we’re solving for the wrong thing, maybe we’re analyzing the data incorrectly and not simplifying enough? My design could completely suck. Every test result may come back with inconclusive data or tell us we’re completely looking at the wrong things. If then, time still allows, we’ll test some more. Probably fail some more, but we’ll be improving forward.