I read "Fail First" concept around 3 years ago. The learning from it was that we need to deploy as often as to test market. But the reality is that it doesn't produce better than before knowing "Fail First". So what is stopping us?
Around 3 months ago, I started to build my own startup - KareerTracker. It brought me better view about business and product development process. I am using Lean Canvas to iterate my business mode.
The striking point is about more than 90% of new products and new businesses failed statistically. What does this number mean? If you dont have strong believe of values on your products or businesses, please dont do that. You need an value more than a product to believe in. The value needs to guide through your hard time because we need to go through hundreds failures. Just in three months, I went through several failures, like just can't recruit more than 10 customers for first batch customer interview, one customer group just don't like our product at all and others and many more. But fortunately part is about that if you have "fail first" in mind, you will experiment those ideas with minimum cost (mostly free) and without even programming or writing a script. As normal start-up, we are resources constraint business including both money and time. To minimize risk, we need to be very careful. Otherwise, we gona die very soon.
And another side of "Fail First" is that you need to understand what to test before and actively learn from it from both business and technical views. Without them, you mostly will take an action to do different things without any evidence.
Now, looking back, What I will do differently if I knew three years ago. There are many ideas which can be done without programming/developers. And they can be tested and validated before going into development team backlog. While doing development, involving customer in the process is most effective way to "fail first". And code bases will be much nicer and it will save a lot in maintenance costs.
My understanding of "Fail First" is that "fail" early with minimum cost and learn from it. While I am going through the journey, I believe that my understanding may change again.
What is yours?