How do you measure progress, success, forward movement, a good week?  In today’s increasingly complex environment, start looking to different measures to show the path forward.

Ohmygod sales are down!  Does this mean you blew it?   Problems with quality, service, competition?  Or does this signal something more fundamental, less about how you execute and more about the general trajectory of your business model or industry.  It depends on how you’re measuring.

In this example, what should you be measuring — be paying attention to — to get your sales moving forward again?  Number of new prospects generated?  Ad spending?   In a more ordered environment, probably.  Today, I’d argue a better measure of success is number of failed marketing campaigns or number and type of customers lost.

Failing a lot with new marketing campaigns when sales are down isn’t “the LAST thing you should do.”    It’s the first you should do.  More failures means a shorter path to what will work.

Same with understanding the type of customers you’re losing (Ohmygod we just lost another customer!!).   As newspapers lost customers some focused on how to stop losing customers by adding more value to the paper they delivered news on (more coupons, more color!!).  Others focused on their customers’ changing preferences for consuming news.

The examples are endless, but the point remains: the measures of success are being turned upside down.