Day 3 of my guest blog series on WIRED Magazine’s Change Accelerators Blog sponsored by BMW.

Day 3: Fail Faster

Accelerated change necessitates faster failing, faster learning, faster regrouping.

We’re living in an environment of unprecedented transformation. The rate of technological change has accelerated the everyday flux of innovation, obsolescence, and re-innovation to a point where all the rules are changing. And tomorrow they will be changing still faster.

This can sound terrifying, I know. But in fact, there are some exhilarating and exciting implications. For example, who is better positioned for economic success right now, the United States or China? Be careful. It’s a trick question.

Oracle, IBM, Google, SAP, all big companies, all giants. (Fill in the blanks for your particular field. NBC-CBS-ABC. GM-Ford. EMI-SonyBMG-Universal-Warner.) We think they have an advantage over smaller companies, because they have market share, economies of scale, and momentum on their side.

Not true. Accelerate the rate of change, and pretty soon size no longer matters. What matters now is velocity.

It used to be, the big ate the small. Not anymore. Now the fast eat the slow.

Today new competitors can emerge rapidly, even from completely different parts of the globe. The barriers to entry are absurdly low, the ability to scale equally fast. Anyone, anytime, can quickly become more relevant than you.

And this has created a new relationship with failure.

Our instinct is to avoid failure, or try to. The specter of failure makes us risk-averse. But today, a wait-and-see, let’s-ride-it-out approach to strategy is suicide. Wait and see used to equal “playing it safe.” Today it’s the opposite. Motorola, Kodak, and Polaroid saw the advent of digital, treated it as a soft trend, and all played wait-and-see. The major record labels played wait-and-see with MP3 audio.

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