Fail Often, but Fail Early

By Brian Ling December 20, 2010

It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that I have decided to put the Spaces for Ideas Collection 2 on hold indefinitely.

After taking a hard look at the new prototypes, I am unable to get the design and marketing mix right. The cost to make the Story Book and Iteration Book is not economically viable in the volumes I can afford. Initial user feedback have also supported this by highlighting that the selling price vs. product offering is just not compelling enough.

The reality is that launching products into the market is a calculated risk. If I had the funds, and this is all self-funded, I would trust my gut and launch the product. But this time I don’t have the funds, so my gut says no.

This second collection is by no means killed. However this time I am going back to the drawing board for a complete rethink and redesign. I am planning to bring in some help to see where I can take the range. Often it takes a fresh set of eyes and perhaps a different angle to get the mix right.

I’ve spent so much time on this project that it is criminal. I could have gone on and on, but I’ve hit my self imposed dateline and it is time to pull the plug. I’m contented that I’ve covered almost every possible iteration and have the many mock-ups and prototypes to document my process. Mock-ups cost far less than a production run, and as they always say, fail often but fail early.

The Space for Ideas brand will continue with the Expandable Sketchbook being the brand’s only product for the time being. I have by no means exhausted all possible sales channels for the Expandable Sketchbook, and the awesome December sales figures tell me that demand for this product remains healthy.

Interestingly, as I’m about to publish this post, I feel strangely liberated. Closing this project has freed up much or my mental capacity and a weight off my shoulders. This also means I can focus on other aspects of Design Sojourn’s business such as consulting and training. If anything, this is the reason why I had to go through this whole convoluted but enjoyable process. You should try it sometime!

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Brian Ling

Brian is the Founder and Design Director at Design Sojourn, a Design Led Innovation Consultancy. He is a multi-award winning design leader, and specialises in strategic design and innovation programs that drive successful organisations. Brian’s 20-year career in design, driven through a deep understanding of human behavior, spans over multiple domains such as consumer electronics, government, healthcare, non-profit agencies, hospitality, F&B, retail, online solutions and best in class service experiences.

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4 Comments on "Fail Often, but Fail Early"

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[…] not, it will be a moving target that will make running a business difficult. For example, I put my Spaces for Ideas: Collection 2 on hold as I was not able to meet my budget and cost targets. Pushing the project forward would have put my […]

Design Translator

@Gwen: Thanks for your comment, it is always a pleasure to read them! Indeed, putting on a project on the back burner and working on something else helps. However the problem is I already have too much on the back burner and my mental capacity is over-runneth!

@billy: Thanks for the great suggestions and for stopping by. Indeed approaching another brand is in the pipeline, I have heard that Muji has a sourcing arm here locally and I have planned to contact them as soon as I can.


what about using something like kickstarter?

also, if you could license the ideas to a company like moleskin or muji, that might be a great way to get some return on your work and investments.

Also a great excercise to see how the designs might change in the context of another brand, possibly influencing your own for the better.

i had a wise woman telling me… (studio teacher) “never get too attached (the projects) and just move onward.” It was a very good thing that i had her in my first year at school cause it helped me through the rest of my years starting as a designer to never get hung up over a project. I am not saying to ‘reject your projects’ you did in the past. but to reflect on them, like you mention in your post above. Also there is that fact of occupying your mind on other projects to help solve the challenge. Which… Read more »

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