Three Commandments for Creative Failure*
April 16, 2018
“Invert, always invert.”
— Carl Jacobi
Another useful tool for thinking is inversion. The quote from Jacobi comes via Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s partner at Berkshire Hathaway, who and has built a considerable following and reputation for independent thinking
(the volume of his collected wisdom is well worth the investment) — and is where I learned the concept.
Basically, it’s this: Even if you don’t know how to make something successful, you probably know how to make something fail. So, make a list of those things that you would do if your objective was to fail. Then check: How many of those things are you currently doing?
The answer, almost always, is at least a few. So: stop doing those things.
It’s a pretty quick exercise and works in every area of life.
For example, here’s ones for this newly resuscitated blog. What are three practices that I would advise if I were trying to make it fizzle out and fail? How about:
- Rule 1: Only write when it flows easily: stop when it gets too difficult.
- Rule 2: Write only when you have the time for it.
- Rule 3: Only produce the absolute best quality work. Don’t work on anything that seems like it might be bad.
And there it is: A short checklist of practices to avoid. It might not make the project a success, but it’s a good guide around the most common sources of failure.
* Credit to “The Ten Commandments for Business Failure” for the title.