When I start a project, I always define what success looks like. Often I do what success looks like and what the ultimate, totally amazing success would look like (just for fun). Knowing this in advance means you know how to evaluate the project or program and if you keeping within your plan.
But the other thing I do is define failure. For some projects this really is anything other than success, but for others, failure is different and there’s a gap between the two. Why would I care? Here’s an example.
Recently with a customer we tried a new publication for advertising. It was a good risk – the money wasn’t huge, the audience was right, etc. Success was defined as 25 people saying the came in from the ad. But since we only committed to once, we recognized we had no repetitive benefits. So failure was 5. That meant if we had 6-24 people come in, it was neither a success or failure. We agreed that 6 people coming in would mean we would do the ad again with some changes depending on what those 6 people said. If we were 25 or over, we would keep it the same and run again. As it is, we’ve tweaked it twice and are now seeing the results we want.
By giving us that room, it helped keep us ahead of changes and even the sales rep knew what would happen depending on the situation. Everyone wins!
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