Systems that are designed to fail, often do

I’ve been saying this for mumble decades.  What I mean by “designed  to fail” isn’t specifically that someone wants a system to fail.  Rather, by various interactions, wishful thinking, drinking of one’s own kool-aid, a system is placed on an inexorable path to failure.  Without something to divert it in time, failure is the most probable outcome.

Watching these failures unfold can strike terror in one’s heart.  Especially when you realize that you yourself have not been able to nudge the system onto a sane path.  

At some point in a design and implementation of a system, the proverbial rubber meets the road.  One cannot hope for miracles to solve difficult problems during these times.  One needs to focus on the subset of problems they can solve, in a meaningful period of time, with the resources they have.

I’ve seen many failures over my career, where people took on too ambitious a set of goals in an unreasonable period of time.  Or did not leverage in-built capabilities of existing solutions.  Or let their personal biases get the better of them, and focus on re-inventing wheels that did not need to be re-invented.

I’ve been guilty of a number of these over the last few decades.  Its hard to admit you messed up.  It’s helpful though.  8 years ago, I thought large many GPU desktops with fast SSD and lots of RAM/CPU cores would be a great seller at Scalable.  Boy was I wrong.  And now I see DGX-n from NVidia, and I wonder how well they are selling, or even if they are selling.

The hardest part of all of this, is learning to embrace the failure, and learn from it.  To not take this failure personally.  To work at asking, and honestly answering, the question of what went wrong, and why.

I killed off the Pegasus desksides.  Even though I believed in them.  I thought they would be a winner.   They weren’t.  We wasted time, money, and energy chasing something I believed in versus something that was real.

As a rule of thumb, if all the fingers are point outward and away from you during this assessment, you’ve not been honest about answering these questions.  Or even perhaps, not asking the right ones.

That was a hard battle for me at first, but you get better at it over time.