And How Will You Measure Progress?
Violent crime in America declined each year from 1993 to 2004. Then just about the time the iPod became popular in 2005, violent crime began trending upward.
CONCLUSION: iPods cause violent crime. Or at least that was the conclusion of a 2007 report published by The Urban Institute, a research organization based in Washington. (I swear I’m not making this up.)
Bad advertising strategies stem from just such logic: “Since one event precedes another, the first event must be the cause of the second.” This fallacy of logic is so common it has a Latin name: Post hoc, ergo, propter hoc, “after this, therefore, because of this,” referring to the mistaken belief that temporal succession implies a causal relation.
Most business owners look around, observe their circumstances and then try to make sense of it all. Their thoughts and plans are guided by what they see. But any scientist will tell you correlation and causation are not the same thing.
Don’t tell me what you see. Tell me what you want to see. “What are you trying to make happen? And how will you measure progress?” When I ask these questions, most business owners stammer, stutter and hedge, then change the subject by asking a question of their own.
I usually ignore that question and ask, “How am I supposed to help you make something happen when you can’t tell me what it is?”
“When you don’t know where you’re going,
any road will get you there.”
– Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland
How many of your actions are actually reactions triggered by circumstances? (Please know that I am as guilty of this as the rest of you.) Are we allowing the merely urgent to set aside the truly important?
Do you know what you’re trying to make happen? Can you tell me exactly how you plan to measure progress? The shortest distance from Point A to Point B is always a straight line. The best marketing strategies begin by drawing a straight line from Where We Are Today to Where We’d Like To Be Tomorrow.
You can’t navigate a ship by studying the wind and waves. Fix your gaze on your goal, a non-negotiable, fixed position that can never change. Let that be your lighthouse, your reference point, your North Star.
No stack of dollars can be your lighthouse. Dollars are merely a byproduct. Money fails as a compass because it can be found in every direction. Guiding directives and unifying principles are never merely financial.
Where do you want to be tomorrow?
Now point to your North Star so that I can see it, too.
Good. Now let’s get started.
Roy H. Williams