At LiveRamp, every employee is required to be entrepreneurial, and a big part of entrepreneurship is the willingness to invest enormous efforts in initiatives that might not succeed. It has thus always been an important part of our culture to celebrate both well-executed successes as well as well-executed failures.
The cultural recognition of “constructive failure” is identified by Dan Senor and Saul Singer in their book Start-Up Nation as one of the ingredients of Israel’s entrepreneurial “miracle”:
Israeli attitude and informality flow also from a cultural tolerance for what some Israelies call “constructive failures” or “intelligent failures.” Most local investors believe that without tolerating a large number of these failures, it is impossible to achieve true innovation. In the Israeli military, there is a tendency to treat all performance — both successful and unsuccessful — in training and simulations, and sometimes even in battle, as value-neutral. So long as the risk was taken intelligently, and not recklessly, there is something to be learned.
In this spirit, we took a few moments last week to celebrate the memory of a handful of the wonderful projects that were terminated this past year. We derived inspiration from the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, also occurring last week, in which dead friends and loved ones are remembered and celebrated, sometimes in “a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.”
Our event was designated Día de los Proyectos Muertos (Day of the Dead Projects), and each departed project received a poignant (read: spectacularly funny) eulogy given by one of our engineers. There were multiple highlights, but the top crowd-pleaser was a eulogy given for a reporting system that was put to rest after three productive years. The eulogy recalled the conception, birth, high-points and low-points of the system’s “full and meaningful life”, and featured a filtered selection of colorful svn commit comments.