Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Learning from uncertainty

It seems easy to know what caused any failure afterward. At least it is easy to come up with theories of what have caused any given failure. Problem is that there is often no way of verifying the causes. Predicting into the future just seems impossible.

In medicine we have clinical trials where drugs are given under very controlled conditions, some patients even getting a placebo as replacement for the real drug. In IT this would be difficult to arrange.

IT is a field with lots of uncertainty involved. Some things will work sometimes, but not always. A successful setup in one project may lead to a big time failure in the next. A setup failing in one project may work perfectly in the next. There is no way that you can beforehand know if you will have positive or negative surprises and if they will impact your endeavor at all.

Only fool proof way to safeguard against unpredictability seems to be to progress in small scale steps, failing early and not in an expensive way. If we are allowed to try enough times we will eventually succeed.

There is an excellent Tech Nation interview with Nassim Nicholas Taleb dealing with unpredictability and impact on business available at ITConversations, go check it out.

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