The Valuable Loud Clank of Failure

June 10, 2009

Earlier this week in class, my TKD master placed two folding chairs on the training mat.  He told us to make two lines behind them.  We replied ‘yes, sir’ and proceeded to, albeit somewhat reluctantly.  None of us had ever had this experience and there was an air of uncertainty and apprehension.

He then told us to stand directly behind the chair and kick above it with a back kick.  Easy enough, right? 

What followed was a series of hesitant, wobbly, ungainly kicks—some making it over the chair—some making a loud CLANKING sound as the chair was smacked or kicked over.  The sound was a not-to-be-ignored message that our technique was wrong.

Accountability. Metrics. 

Ah, metrics. The bane of the marketer. Or not. The problem with metrics is that you can’t hide from being accountable.  Every time that chair clanked, the individual standing there was faced with a challenge – “Who do I blame?  Do I make excuses?”  I went immediately to – “Hey, I’m only 5’2 -that chair is really tall for me!”  I heard another one of my much taller training partners complain that his feet were too big.  It’s our nature to find a reason why the obvious failure does not belong to us.

In business, metrics evaluate what’s working and what is not.  In some cases metrics are obvious—a lead generation campaign or a trade show.  Not a tough ROI to calculate.  For other programs, a bit of creativity needs to be employed.  For example, when Summit leads clients through a Summit Strategy Springboard, we pre-set the parameters of success. We determine the height of that chair. 

One measure of success is to have all the key executives describing the company for whom they work in the same language.  Trust me when I say that clearing the chair with a back-kick is child’s play by comparison. 

Without metrics one can kick about haphazardly. But the cacophony of our failures is what rings in our head to help us get it right.  While we won’t execute perfectly every time, having the ability to know when we do sure sounds sweet. So set your height and give it kick. Close your eyes and listen for the result, regardless of the sound or success or failure. Measure it—it’s not going to be ignored

The journey or a thousand kicks starts with one SMACK! Try some Marketingsmack today at

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2 Responses to “The Valuable Loud Clank of Failure”

  1. John Icardi Says:

    Jack, I liked this piece. Well done. If we can’t quantify what we do, we won’t do it very well. And, it is all about planning and execution. After the first miss, your brain should engage in the why, not why not. Keep this up, you have a good thing going. Best, John

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