Via Farnam Street:
Biologists have a word for the way in which solutions emerge from failure: evolution. ... Disconcertingly, given our instinctive belief that complex problems require expertly designed solutions, it is completely unplanned. Astounding complexity emerges in response to a simple process: try out a few variants on what you already have, weed out the failures, copy the success - and repeat forever. Variation, and selection, again and again.
Whether we like it or not, trial and error is a tremendously powerful process for solving problems in a complex world, while expert leadership is not.
...most real-world problems are more complex than we think. They have a human dimension, a local dimension, and are likely to change as circumstances change. ... (the method for dealing with this could be summarized in three principles) first, seek out new ideas and try new things; second, when trying something new, do it on a scale where failure is survivable; third, seek out feedback and learn from your mistakes as you go along. (variation, survivability, and selection)
Related previous posts:
Tim Harford on learning from failure
In praise of pragmatism - By Tim Harford