Fail faire

Identifying potential risks and failures for your solution to turn them into opportunities

Practical Information

What is this tool?

A structured discussion format that makes use of outsider perspectives to help you to identify potential risks and failures and turn them into opportunities for your social solution.

Why do we use it?

By bringing in the perspectives of others, you see your idea differently and it helps you to identify areas of weakness in your idea early on, so that you can strengthen the overall concept. It helps you to fail early on in the process when the stakes are not very high.

Design phase:

Create & test loop


Pen and paper, Post its, Online tool


30 minutes - 1 hour

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A step-by-step guide

1. Identify a group of stakeholders that represent different types of users or other partners in the project.

2. Present your solution to the stakeholders and make sure there is a visual representation such as a  User Journey.

3. Ask all the participants to write down all the things that could go wrong with your idea on a post-it. For example, why your concept is not going to work or is will not result in the outcomes you expect. Ask them to really think about the worst that could happen.

4. Ask the participants to share these ‘fail factors’  placing their post-its on your idea. Try to do this in 15 minutes, and ask each participant to only mention fail factors that haven’t been mentioned by others. Do this until all fail factors are added. 

5. Together or in small groups, turn each fail factor around into a success factor. A success factor could be a mitigating measure or a change of plan. Make sure to record all the feedback and success factors that are shared. 

How other organisations used this tool

How to use the outcomes of the tool?

The outcomes of the Fail Fair can be used to improve your idea, you can integrate the new ideas in your user journey or directly create a prototype plan and anticipate potential challenges your solution might encounter.

Related tools

User journey
Making your idea come to live by describing it from a users perspective
One way to present your concept to the group of stakeholders is in the form of a user journey

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