Is “failing fast” failing your credit union?

These days, the mantra is “fail fast” but is that really the best approach?

Everyone has heard the story of Edison inventing the lightbulb…how he failed over 1,000 times before he found success. Clearly, he didn’t fail fast…he failed often. Perhaps he learned fast and adapted fast…but his “failure” went over a very long period of time.

This made me wonder if he was a product of his time, or truly a unique example of dedication to a cause. Yes, inventors have a tendency to keep trying until they succeed – that is how they change the world. But were people more likely to try (and repeatedly fail) in the past?

We are in the midst of the holiday season…and I found an interesting fact before Thanksgiving that really made me think about this topic. Much like the Edison story, we have all heard about the origins of Thanksgiving…but did you know there is more to the story?

Even though George Washington called for a national day of thanks in 1789, it wasn’t made official until 1863.


A writer and editor, New Hampshire-born Sarah Josepha Hale, campaigned by sending countless letters over 36 years to make Thanksgiving an official holiday. Really think about that. Thirty-six years of letters.

Have you ever cared about anything that much? What would make you care that much? When would you have given up? After one unanswered letter? One year of letters? Ten years?

Not every innovative idea deserves that sort of dedication, but these examples make me think about the changes in our environment that may have resulted in a lack of dedication to causes.

Is there anything you know your credit union should be doing…but you don’t? Maybe you brought it up in a meeting once and got shot down. Did you stop campaigning after that? Would your members benefit more if you fought for whatever that change is?

One of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving story is that the well-known person, George Washington, wasn’t the one to get it done. Instead, it was a little known woman, who truly cared about this so much that she stuck it out until her dream was realized. Change is made by individuals who care enough to really fight.

I worry that the “fail fast” mantra has led us to “fail once” and move on. Some things are worth failing for multiple times. I know Thanksgiving has passed already this year, but today, I am truly thankful for those who kept at it until they got things done.

What are you willing to fail for?


Melina Palmer

Melina Palmer

Why do people say one thing and do another? What really drives behavior? How does the brain actually work – and how can we best communicate with it? What does that ... Web: Details