It’s Good to Be Wrong

Being wrong is a good thing. I know…I know…we’ve been told our entire lives that it’s better to be right than wrong. I think, though, that in the design/development industry, it’s good to be wrong sometimes.

Always being right means we’re not challenging ourselves enough. It means that either we’ve become comfortable and content with where we are at with our skills, or that there is no one challenging us to improve those skills. In either case, we’re not progressing.

If we’re wrong, it means we’re pushing ourselves to explore our limits, to continue to expand our skill set. Being wrong opens the door for constructive criticism, which in turn leads to opportunities to learn. People who are willing to tell us when we’re wrong are the kind of people we should be surrounding ourselves with…they’re the kind of people who challenge us to become better designers and developers.

One quote, that I believe sums it up pretty well, is by Bill Buxton a Principal Researcher at Microsoft. In his book “Sketching User Experiences”, Bill has the following to say:

People on a design team must be as happy to be wrong as right. If their ideas hold up under strong (but fair) criticism, then great, they can proceed with confidence. If their ideas are rejected with good rationale, then they have learned something. A healthy team is made up of people who have the attitude that it is better to learn something new than to be right.

While Bill’s quote is aimed at designers, I think the rule applies to both designers and developers. Making mistakes, getting constructive criticism, and learning from that criticism is a healthy thing. It allows us opportunities to expand our skills and grow in our field. Only through this kind of healthy criticism can our skills, and ultimately the products we produce, become finely tuned.