Atlanta-based marketing consultant Bobby Darnell blogs infrequently. Fortunately, he observes a quality vs quantity model — and his posting “Are you hitting into a net” from March (which I only discovered recently) captures an essential message: You don’t really know what you’ve achieved if you cannot see (or measure) the results.
I was born to be a golfer and depending on whom you ask; my mother will say I was named after her father, George Robert, but my dad will say I was named after Bobby Jones. Yes, I grew up playing golf and when I was in my early teens, I just knew I would one day wear the Green Jacket.
In Georgia, there are very few days out of the year that one cannot play golf. I do remember as a young teen asking my father for one of those nets you can hit into in your garage. I thought this would be perfect for me so I could groove my swing even when I was not able to play. Now, you should know that there were very few things my dad denied me when it came to golf but this was one of them, without hesitation, he said, “No way!”
I was shocked…this seemed like a no-brainer. When I asked why, his response was, and still is, one of the most profound pearls of wisdom I have carried with me through the years. He explained that while hitting into a net is great for developing all aspects of one’s swing, it prevents you from seeing the results.
In other words, you could hit 1,000 golf balls into the net and feel as if you have perfected your stance, grip, back stroke, down stroke and follow through, but unless you know where the ball ends up, you could be doing nothing more than developing bad habits.
This rings true for business. Too often business owners go through the motions, hurrying about, in and out of meetings, chasing deadlines, rushing from one project or task to the next but rarely take time to survey results. As long as there is money in the checking account to pay bills, things are fine. They are indeed, hitting into a net.
Of course, as I’ve learned in researching and writing several previous articles about measurement, it can be a challenge to measure results and determine objectives in the AEC environment, especially if your business or practice is bidding or seeking to capture large and relatively infrequent projects with really long lead-to-result cycles. Clearly, sample sizes are far too small in most cases for any statistical validity. (You win a $5.5 million contract, enough to sustain your business for two years. Is this blind luck, connections, or the quality of your presentation?) You may be measuring the wrong thing, or reverse-engineering and discovering truths that don’t really have any sound basis.
Nevertheless, you can develop tools, sometimes with third-party support, to:
- Assess and survey client satisfaction (not the superficial stuff, but more deeply);
- Track traffic, inquiries (and your responsiveness to them), leads (you need to define what a “lead” is) and actions;
- Assess employee or partner success in achieving results (if you determine that speaking and presenting generate business, how many presentations are your key players giving, to whom, what is the audience feedback, and so on.)
An important point here is that often the measuring model you use needs to be highly customized to your business and culture. You will also need to accept that this is not likely to be an instant-gratification exercise, because of the longer cycles in this industry. Still, Darnell’s point is worthy: If you intend to do anything, see if you can find a way to track the process to its conclusion.
You may find other opinions on whether a golfing net — or measuring — is important. If you want to buy a net, consider the Colin Montgomerie Collection Golf Practice Net.