WHAT Is More Important Than HOW

It still bothers me that my high school Physics teacher did not give me credit on a test for a correct answer. She said that I had not used the proscribed formula. I argued long and hard that the steps I took were logical and demonstrated that I knew the subject matter. Though I had not used the exact formula she had wanted, I did deliver the proper outcome.

My dad always wanted me to cut the grass in up-and-back rows, moving from one side of the yard to the other. Each of my sons chose to cut grass in different patterns. One might start by cutting the perimeter and gradually working his way to the middle. The other might cut one section, then another, then another until the job was done. Honestly, it doesn’t matter, as long as all the grass is cut.

I worked in 2011 for a person who was an extreme micromanager. I recall meeting with him about an advertising budget. When I asked for his feedback he talked more about my use of Excel (spreadsheet software) than about where to spend money. Yes, he was more concerned about how I was doing it than what I was doing.

By focusing on methods, it is possible to put more attention on the journey than the destination. Does it matter whether you hit your sales goal due to special deals posted on your Facebook page? Or was it that marketing email that made customers show up? Could it have been the new sign on the front of your building? Or was it because your daughter stood on the side of the road wearing a chicken costume, waving people in?

Certainly tracking, despite its frequent inaccuracy, is a good way to inform future marketing plans. But what matters is results, however you achieve them.

Ask any football coach: Would you rather have a proper run/pass ratio, correct defensive alignments or more points than the other team?

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