Fail fast: how this startup philosophy can help entrepreneurial education

You may already know that in entrepreneurial education, a failure should not be considered the worst thing in the world. That happens because making mistakes is an essential part of creativity and innovation, and is therefore fundamental to the practice of entrepreneurship.

However, in today’s education system, where the student is assessed by tests and can have a lower grade whenever a question is missed, it is difficult to see imperfection as natural to the learning process. This ends up raising students who are very afraid of failing, and thus fail to take risks and innovate in products, processes and approaches in their working life.

In this context, concepts such as Fail Fast,very used by startups, can be the solution to help turning failure into a normal thing and even teach students to fail better. In this post, learn how to apply the fail fast philosophy in education.

What is Fail Fast

The idea of failing fast is explored by entrepreneur Eric Ries in his book Lean Startup. In it, the author advocates constant testing of prototypes not yet fully finished (the minimum viable product) in order to make product development more agile. The process also saves unnecessary expense that would exist if the faulty product was taken further.

The big idea behind building prototypes is to test all hypotheses quickly, seeing what works and what doesn’t. The method is to build, test and learn. Error is then a natural part of the process. The important thing is to know how to make mistakes faster to avoid wasting time and money.

Failure can be good

With the Fail Fast philosophy, the whole notion of failure acquires a new connotation, totally opposite to the one we usually learn. It becomes associated with the learning journey, creativity, adaptability, and the company’s path toward success.

Based on testing with the minimum viable product, you can choose whether that project will continue or take a new direction – which is called pivoting. It’s about repeating the same process over and over until you can develop an excellent product that is approved by consumers.

Along with the concept of Fail Fast, many companies also use terms such as Fail Early, Fail Often, and Fail Better, highlighting the core aspects of the methodology. Incorporating frequent testing and failure as a learning mechanism makes errors increasingly intelligent, driving the product to excellence.

Applying Fail Fast to Education

While the current education system tends to undermine learning process failures, it is true that school environment is the ideal place for young people to be free to take risks and fail, as their mistakes have no major consequences such as losing money, as in a company. Another advantage is that there is more time to make several attempts  at school .

Show your students how failure is a learning opportunity. Provide examples, as in the case of large companies that learned from their shortcomings and became strong in the market. Domino’s illustrates this process well in this YouTube video:

Also, give students opportunities to freely fail. One idea is to allow students to redo the activity by learning from the feedback he or she received from you and even from peers. They can also be encouraged to hypothesize how to improve their work on their own by testing each of their ideas and taking further project development steps.

See how incorporating failure into the learning process can be simpler than it sounds,? Learn more about how failure is part of entrepreneurial education and get to know Quest to Learn, a school that aims to naturalize failure through gamified entrepreneurial education.


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