Mistakes are Awesome

Mistakes are awesome!

We are all human. And we all make mistakes, both in our personal lives and business settings.
However, the way we deal with them is what makes the difference in the long term.

The biggest thing with mistakes is not how and how quickly you resolve them (although this is extremely important as well), but what you can learn from them so you don’t make the same mistakes twice. And more importantly, educate others to avoid the mistakes you made, so they do not have to go through the same learning curve after the fact.

Often in companies, mistakes are not spoken about. It reflects badly on the person who made the mistake. And nobody wants to put themselves in a negative spot light. After all, your performance bonus and salary increase depend on how well you did at the end of the day.

However, and this is the very sad part of the story, this means nobody will learn from the mistakes made and avoid making them themselves.
The solution, in my personal opinion, is very simple:

A black book.

All companies should have a running list (anonymous of course, to avoid egos being crushed) of the mistake made, the solution to get it fixed in a quick and responsible manner, the lessons learnt and ways to avoid this same mistake happening again. And this needs to be shared across the entire business. Not just the people in the same team, but all the people that may come across a similar problem in the future.

Most companies unfortunately don’t do this. They focus on rectifying the problem, and when that is done, forget to share the learnings of the mistake with the rest of the organisation.

They will most likely, in the near or far future, make the same mistakes again, not having gained the knowledge from the first person making the mistake.

I am not saying that you should only focus on the mistakes made by people within the organisation. Don’t get me wrong, you need to highlight all their awesomeness and amazingness as well. You need to reward them for doing fantastic work for the organisation. But this does not mean ignoring the lessons learnt and potential mistakes made. And sharing this, in a way that everybody can learn from it.
To give you a very basic example from my work in the corporate organisation, without of course conveying the name of the company, product or people involved:

We developed a campaign, based on the brief received from one of the departments within the business. This included the target audience, channels, etc.

We set up the campaign, used all channels available within the budget, and took it live.

Within a few days, we started looking at the basic measurements and results:

  • Clicks to the website
  • Conversions
  • Calls to the call centre
  • Actual leads and sales
  • Behaviour on the site
  • Etc

And the results were not what we expected. We had developed such an awesome campaign, but people were not responding to it. This was terribly disappointing and you almost start doubting your own skills. (bit of an exaggeration here, for dramatic effects to the story)

In order to improve the results, we started researching all the factors that could affect the success of the campaign and found out that we did a lot wrong:

  • The target audience we were after was not the target audience that was actually interested in the product. The issue here was the original brief, and not involving the right people to get their input.
  • This meant that not only the message was wrong, but also the placement of the ads and the set up of the landing pages.
  • Although the campaign made sense in our mind, potential clients did not understand it. Only if you explained the concept to them, did they understand what we were trying to convey. (this is by the way a problem with a lot of campaigns)
  • People were not following the flow we had in mind for them on the site. We did not make the landing pages intuitive enough.
  • The benefits and features of the product that we thought people would like the most, weren’t actually the benefits the end consumer preferred and based their purchase decision on.
  • Basically, we had to start almost from scratch, delaying the campaign, incurring more costs, and potentially having lost customers because we  gave them the wrong message.

The outcome:

A 4 hour session to discover whether we had made the same mistakes on other campaigns, with all the parties and agencies involved. Drawing a list of all the mistakes made, across all campaigns and presenting this back to all other teams in a format that would guide them.

The result:

Equipping people with the knowledge we as a team had gained from this exercise, providing them with the opportunity not to make the same mistake we had made.

Learning from our own findings, rectifying the campaigns in order to achieve better results for the business.

And for all future projects, saving money, time and energy whilst creating better informed campaigns.



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