Get it right 98% of the time, and double-check the important stuff – Agile Marketing #8

You can see the decisions that matter by looking at the results

This is the 8th in a series of posts on Agile Marketing – the working definition of which is to “Create, communicate and deliver unique value to an always-changing consumer (or business) in an always-changing market with an always-changing product.” You’re a smart person. You work with smart people. And yet inevitably important events can be marred by mistakes, carelessness, or just the occasional dumb move. You don’t have the time or the energy to check 100% of the decisions 100% of the time (in fact, you probably barely have time to check the 20% of your decisions that have 80% of the value), so what should you do to get more things right most of the time?

Principle 8: Plan for everyone to get it right 98% of the time, and double-check the important stuff.

The idea of “getting right 98% of the time” sounds sort of like “waste half of your money on advertising, and never figure out which half matters.” But it’s a lot simpler than that. Getting it right 98% of the time means using your head, building common sense-driven decisions, and asking for help on the important decisions that matter.

Don’t do it all by yourself.

You can start by delegating decisions – you won’t be able to make all of the decisions yourself (and if you are, you are the definition of a bottleneck.) When you effectively delegate decisions, you state clearly what needs to get done and when, you make the rest of your team accountable (think “CEO of your own job” as a performance goal for your team), and imagine and communicate the end state, or what things will look like when you’re done.

Confine mistakes to the decisions that don’t matter

You should make lots of mistakes. In fact, you should be making them every day. (If you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not moving fast enough.) But you should confine your mistakes to the decisions that don’t matter. In other words, do sweat the small stuff – but only the right small stuff.

You can get a better idea of what the “decisions that do matter” look like by trusting your gut. Double-check the important decisions by asking a team member or your boss for input. Write a rough draft for the important presentation or idea (don’t worry if it doesn’t seem done to you.) And be honest about what matters and what doesn’t. If you don’t know, ask your boss or someone else on your team.

Involve your larger team, especially for the decisions that matter

When your gut (and your boss) tell you that a decision is important, it probably is. The 2% that matters (the inverse of the 98% of decisions that you make and that conversely don’t really matter all that much) is important to get right – decisions that do matter should get extra care and attention from the whole team.

So when it does matter, involve key players. The key players might not be who you think they are, so please ask people from the entire team to contribute to get more (and different) perspectives. And overall, pay attention to the 2% that matters. This may not be a statistical observation, but it shares the point well – the little things that are done right are a tell for bigger things done right.

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