Why I want to help ME/CFS medical researchers 'fail-fast'

Why I want to help ME/CFS medical researchers 'fail-fast'

I've been involved in the business world now for some 30-plus years. In recent times, there's been a major uptick in the use of buzzwords, phrases, and even sports codes.

In New Zealand, we love our rugby, so it probably won't surprise you that we're introducing rugby terminology into business teams - particularly in the IT sector with references to a Scrum and Scrum master. The cynic in me wonders why we have to keep reinventing ways of demonstrating how good communication and teamwork should happen, to get things done and delivered on time. Is it because we've lost the art of good communication, or is it that we seem to have no idea how to prioritise and hold ourselves and others accountable?

There is one term however that I do embrace, and that's #failingfast. In a start-up, it's a vital mechanism for protecting scarce funding.

In essence, failing fast is about being vulnerable by exposing your minimum viable product or service, think a beta or first version release, that's metaphorically held together with duct tape and a huge helping of hope. It's not going to be beautiful, but it should have the core customer offer that you think your market wants.

It's about being brave, stepping away from your office desk to test your concept early on with real-life users and most importantly, paying customers. Going early, allows you to validate if your offer is actually warranted or simply an interest of yours that has no commercial viability.

To some, failure may feel confronting, wasteful, and even embarrassing, however without trial there is no error, and without error, there is no learning.

I believe that if we are going to solve #ME/CFS and now long covid, we need to enable a research environment, that mirrors the entrepreneurial world, where we enthusiastically embrace failing fast. We need to avoid trying to pick a winner and instead cast our nets wide, by funding small and many trials first. Increasing the number of pilot studies supported, must increase the chances of striking gold.

Whilst watching a recent vlog, I noticed a comment that suggested that the medical research world maybe still stuck in a culture where failure is feared along with collegial and peer judgement. If this culture does exist, my belief is that it can only inhibit medical breakthroughs and innovations.

For this reason, I'm on a mission to build a research funding pool to help solve ME/CFS and long covid, that provides a no-strings-attached philosophy other than the obvious; the use of expected scientific research disciplines and principles.

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