The Dunning-Kruger Effect & How To Fail Slowly

Have you noticed this obsession with speed? Everyone is doing things, real fast. Even failure has to be fast. Fail fast is the new mantra. Christopher S. Penn takes up this point, ‘Ever done this? You see a traffic jam ahead, get off at the next exit, and spend 30 extra minutes on side and back roads to go around the jam… which in reality is only a 10 minute traffic jam? This is the dabbler. This is the person who fails too fast.’ Do you fail too fast?

Christopher S. Penn’s Awaken Your SuperheroHave you noticed this obsession with speed? Everyone is doing things, real fast. Even failure has to be fast. Fail fast is the new mantra. Christopher S. Penn takes up this point, ‘Ever done this? You see a traffic jam ahead, get off at the next exit, and spend 30 extra minutes on side and back roads to go around the jam… which in reality is only a 10 minute traffic jam? This is the dabbler. This is the person who fails too fast.’ Do you fail too fast?

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Chris Penn discussed the Dunning-Kruger effect where:

  • Incompetent people are so limited by their abilities and lack of competence that they don’t realize they’re incompetent.
  • Competent are the last to get the memo.
  • When it comes to goal-only perspectives… your lack of meta-cognitive awareness about your limitations means that if you give up all the time, if you abandon ship too fast, you will NEVER reach excellence.

Do you see what he’s getting at?

How To Fail Slowly

Here’s my thoughts:

  • Speed is sickness.
  • I lived in the US for eight years. I felt guilty if I wasn’t doing something, always on the go.
  • But some things can’t be rushed, like trust, friendship, and appreciation. You can’t enjoy Mozart in a rush.
  • Today I live in China. It’s just as busy. But, here’s the difference. The expectation here is that certain things have to be done slowly.
  • Ever been to a dinner with Chinese-business men? There’s a reason it lasts 4 or 5 hours. They want to see who really you are… after you’ve had a few drinks and loosened up.
  • Like another person said on Chris Brogan’s site, the golden mean in everything, i.e. balance.

Many people are driving 100 mph down an alleyway. Sometimes it’s good to pause for a moment.
What do you think? Are we failing too fast?

2 thoughts on “The Dunning-Kruger Effect & How To Fail Slowly”

  1. Ivan, in one word, 'yes'.

    To expand a little, I think an increasing velocity in information flows is spawning a culture of attention crash, with a deficit in real meaning and awareness that's creating a host of 'doing' as opposed to 'being'. Many companies and individuals are losing their sense of self in that.

    This sense of self is also being compounded also by the connectivity of the web and what used to be worthy and free is being seen as increasingly unsustainable now; the need to make a sale can lead to an uneasy lack of congruence, the lack of congruence you identified about the Third Tribe in my own blog being a case in point, for example. (Thanks for your comments there by the way)

    It's a challenging, largely unchartered commercial landscape we're in and attention deficit is being powered by a need to keep many a corporate ship upright at any cost, including a lack of sense-making. Below a 'business as usual' imperative there is a collective hysteria collecting below the waterline, a syndrome occurring of failing too fast in giddy pursuit of reaching imaginary goalposts.

    At least with the knowledge of what it is we can begin to address some of it. More generative listening, giving ourselves more time, listening to the voice within, co-creating formative experiences, these are all going to be an important way to avoid a peril we stand the risk otherwise of inducing for ourselves. Thanks for raising the subject. Great post.

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