Tracking, Tweaking, Iteration
One thing I love about blogging is the ability to find links between disparate topics and get my opinion out there. Maybe nobody reads it — but who cares. Sometimes its more about clarity of thought than recognition. Well, I came across a couple things today that made me think, and I thought I’d share.
First, I read an article in Baseline (one of my favorite magazines) by Michael Vizard called "Proving IT’s Value to the Executive Suite" in which he makes the case, in a nutshell, that without measurement and management visibility, you can’t understand and promote your ROI to the company. Great point. Deming would be proud. He uses a great example of a marketing department (which sounds like most marketing departments I’ve ever known) that does not make the connection between dollars spent and value achieved.
In the absence of any real measurement tools, most investment in marketing campaigns is based on an article of faith that assumes there is a definable return on that investment. Moreover, most marketing departments are not all that efficient because they don’t conclusively know what campaign is working, and, more important, when it is actually working.
Then I came across Seth Godin’s latest entry on "tweaking" in which he makes a general call for tweakers to unite, and find ways to test and measure and improve the web experience. He has even built a new lens on Squidoo to promote the cause.
I’m talking about turning an arrogant checkout into a useful one by turning off the button that automatically resets to opt in to the spam list every single time I return to the checkout. Or changing the size of the product photo from 144 pixels wide to 500, because making the product the star can triple clickthrough.
This is stuff tweakers know because they do it every day. Because they test and they measure. This is high return on investment knowledge, because it can take hours, not weeks to implement and test.
The lesson to be learned from both articles is that value is most often an iterative process. Most of us are not going to find the pet rock or purple cow that will instantly thrust our company into prosperity. We have to work at it. We have to nibble away at the foundation of the status quo and try to figure out better ways of doing what we do. How do you know you’ve improved on something? You’re tracking it, you’re tweaking it, you’re talking about it, and people are responding.
Just thinking out loud here….