Analytics & Testing

Maximizing Success to Improve Results

ChangeTripp Babbitt’s blog and newsletters on New Systems Thinking has really been growing on me.

Since meeting Tripp at a regional speaking event, he’s shared a ton of his knowledge and experience with me directly, in his newsletter, and on his blog.

One of the reasons I think I enjoy his writing and lessons so much is that Tripp ferociously analyzes businesses and often finds that the measurements and goals never align with the actual problems.

Case in point was a company that measures the number of customer support calls and rewards its customer teams based on the volume of calls they’re able to complete. As Tripp explains, the company didn’t analyze why they were getting the calls and what the cost of a customer service team was as compared to correcting the root problems that caused the calls in the first place.

The problem and the symptom are divided between two departments that never work with each other and don’t have common goals. There’s no benefit to fixing the original issue since the problems it causes are simply handed off to the next department.

For quite some time I’ve been an advocate of finding what works and fine-tuning it, rather than concentrating on what doesn’t work.

There are a lot of famous leaders and business systems that believe in the opposite… they’ll tell you that if you’re 99% successful, you should be working to improve that last 1%. It’s an infinitely frustrating process and leaves a trail of fired and frustrated employees.

I believe successful leaders, companies and strategies maximize success rather than trying to minimize failure:

  • In social media, I’ve been an advocate for enabling and empowering companies to use social media rather than applying rules and boundaries.
  • In blogging, I try to ensure the content I write is all about encouraging readers to try new technologies rather than avoiding them.
  • As a leader, I believe in matching employee talent to the needs of the organization rather than trying to force employees into positions of assured failure. If you have a wrench, don’t tell it that it’s not a good hammer. Go get a hammer if that’s what you need.
  • In online marketing, it’s essential that you continue to tweak what works with your online marketing rather than trying to figure out fixing what never worked. Of course you should experiment when opportunities arise, but push your audience in the direction of success rather than trying to simply avoid failure.
  • Even as a parent, I’ve found this method a far healthier one. If my kids loved Math (which they do) but didn’t like Social Studies, I didn’t make them read history books every night… I encouraged them more in Math. (I did demand decent grades across all subjects, though). Both my kids have great grades… and my son is now an honors student at IUPUI, in Math and Physics.

I was even reading over at Sparkpeople, a site for those of us who are overweight and looking to get healthy, that recent studies have shown that people that exercise for 10 minutes a day have more success than those who work out the prescribed 90 minutes. The shorter workout provides a feeling of accomplishment (rather than agony) and folks were more likely to stick with the routine.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.


  1. Doug,

    Funny you wrote about this today, because just yesterday I met with Carla and Anna of Ignite HR Consulting and they discussed a training program they administer called “Strengths” that sounds complimentary to this post. My takeaway was that the Strengths program – rather than seeking to shore up weaknesses – helps each person to identify their strengths, i.e. what they are good at and what they are passionate about, so they can do more of that for the benefit of the organization and their own well-being.

    Similarly, with age I have sought to put more of my energy to those things I am both good at and enjoy, because: a) there are only so many hours in the day (and in a life), so why not try to make better what I can; b) there is more than enough that I have to do that I am bad at or don’t enjoy; and c) it’s empowering to build success on success (regardless of whether they are big or small successes, because I take what I can get. :)).

    Have a great day, my friend.


  2. Focusing on the positives and what you are passionate about. I am not a web designer and even though I try I will never try to master it. There are others out there who down the road will do a better job then me and do it with less frustration. I need to focus on what works for me and what I’m good at and get even better at those things.

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