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Why We Fail

Learning from Experience Design Failures 

Published: July 30, 2013 Paperback: 248 pages, ISBN 1-933820-17-9 Digital: ISBN 1-933820-59-4

by Victor Lombardi

Why We Fail

The stories behind failures make for fascinating reading. But this book offers more. It provides important insights into both what can go right and what can go wrong in a product offering. To make great products, we need to understand what makes some fail and others succeed. To all the aspiring, young entrepreneurs who are reading this: take heed. Embrace failure to learn from failure. Learn from failure to avoid failure."

—Don Norman Co-founder, Nielsen Norman Group Author of The Design of Everyday Things (Revised and Expanded)

Just as pilots and doctors improve by studying crash reports and postmortems, experience designers can improve by learning how customer experience failures cause products to fail in the marketplace. Rather than proselytizing a particular approach to design, Why We Fail holistically explores what teams actually built, why the products failed, and how we can learn from the past to avoid failure ourselves.

Why We Fail will help you:

  1. Understand the key mistakes other teams have made so you don't repeat them
  2. Turn unavoidable failures into building blocks to be successful
  3. Create a team environment where failures are controlled and valuable

“Why We Fail” Blog

Just Call Me 650.1 LOM

Perhaps even more satisfying than having my own ISBN number is having my own library call number.

It’s failure all the way down.

Stephen Marche argues in the New York Times that for all the business world’s embrace of failure, they’ve got nothin’ on writers… “Fail better,” Samuel Beckett commanded, a phrase that has been taken on by business executives as some kind of ersatz wisdom. They have missed the point completely. Beckett didn’t mean failure-on-the-way-to-delayed-success, which is …

Reader Reviews #6/7: “eye-opening….thoroughly researched”

Why We Fail is available in eBook form at O’Reilly and all the reviewers there gave me 5 stars! Yay! Paul in Austin writes: The case studies alone provide an very interesting read to anybody who has some interest in technology in general. Each case study has been thoroughly researched with plenty of references. The …

When Password Recovery is a Matter of Life and Death

A friend of a friend recently needed surgery but the procedure had to be delayed because no one had the password to a required machine in the operating theater. Luckily it wasn’t a matter of life and death for her, but you have to wonder if that could happen (or already has).

RealNetworks and The Trap of Binary Thinking

While I was researching my book Why We Fail: Learning from Experience Design Failures I spent some time reading about people’s experience with RealNetworks, particularly the RealPlayer, and wondering if they were worthy of inclusion in the book, particularly the don’t be evil chapter. At that point there was no smoking gun, no hard evidence …