Our Forward workgroup selects together the keywords that will guide each new issue. There are a few that individuals get attached to more than others, promoting them during the regular workgroup meetings. Personally I have to admit that I tend to support this last word more than other ones. Trial and error is a longstanding practice in medicine but I believe that, even in the future, it will continue to be the main approach to the most innovative treatments. If that was not sufficient, the covid-19 emergency should have reminded us once again that when we are faced with big uncertainties all we can do is trial, experiment and learn from our mistakes.
Nevertheless, talking about failure is challenging. Our personal curricula do not even show a trace of it, scientific journals struggle to show negative data, meetings hardly focus on failures, media are not enthusiastic about failed attempts, and lastly, the public does not stand very well anything that ends with “We don’t know” or, worse, “It didn’t work”.
Once again Forward and its “method” offer the chance to study, through different points of view, the ability to learn the best possible lessons from every single failure, emphasising the fact that knowledge can only go through mistakes, which help better understand complexity.
Among the opinions and reflections that you will find in the following pages there is a personal exercise that I would encourage everyone to try: a “reverse curriculum vitae”. In the end our failures tell our story better than any success can.