It’s time to get over our obsession with immediate results

What does losing weight, learning to play an instrument, and growing a company all have in common? They take time. Often, a lot of time. However, we are in an age of instant gratification. Whether due to advances in technology, or a decline in our attention span, the drive to get results faster has sped up to an almost breakneck pace. And what’s the drawback to this? We dismiss new ideas and opportunities too early and shortchange their ability to deliver transformative outcomes.

Take, for example, something simple like a marketing campaign. The team takes weeks to put together a concept, develop materials, launch it, and then a couple of weeks go by and the “numbers” aren’t reaching expectations. The campaign is quietly dropped into the dustbin. Is this the right move? I’d argue, it’s not – and for two reasons.

One, time is usually arbitrary. In this scenario, what are you really going to know in two weeks? Ok, two weeks is too short. How about four weeks? Twelve weeks? Fifty-six weeks? What timeframe is the right timeframe? Do a quick Google search and you’ll find articles that say one week, others will say 45 days, as some research shows that 45 days is about how long it takes a consumer to retain and recall information. That’s a huge swing in time.

Yes, the organizational leaders want to see results, and they don’t want to throw money out the window. Yes, they should have a clear understanding of the goals of the campaign, and how it’s performing against those goals. But time shouldn’t be the determinate – those goals should be. If the campaign is making progress towards the goal, but just maybe not as fast as you’d like, is it still valuable? Time shouldn’t be the only measure of success, and many times initiatives that are more complex and complicated than a simple campaign, require a lot more time for a consumer or an employee to digest.

Two, time provides the opportunity for learning. Let’s go back to our campaign example. We launch it and wait our proverbial forty-five days. It hasn’t reached the goal. The decision point here isn’t to determine whether to kill the campaign or not but to understand the WHAT. What is working and what is not. Why it’s working (or not working) so the campaign can be adjusted, re-evaluated, and in turn, reset the proverbial timeline.

Learning is a process, and no matter how seasoned your campaign development team is, they need time to learn. The more time they have to evaluate and assess the campaign, the better their ability to understand its performance on a deeper level, aside from clicks or engagement traffic. This also helps them develop better future campaigns, rather than being focused on quick-win, shock, and awe efforts that only meet the timeline objectives.

The reality is that we have to get things done. This is always tied to time. This deadline, that deadline. However, if we continue to expect results faster and faster, we eventually cross the line of “reasonable expectations” and lose the opportunity to learn in the process. Is faster and quicker better? Well, don’t forget, slow and steady wins the race.

Andrea Olsen
Andrea Olsen

About the Author:

Andrea Belk Olson is a keynote speaker, author, differentiation strategist, behavioral scientist, and customer-centricity expert. As the CEO of Pragmadik, she helps organizations of all sizes, from small businesses to Fortune 500, and has served as an outside consultant for EY and McKinsey. Andrea is the author of The Customer Mission: Why it’s time to cut the $*&% and get back to the business of understanding customers, No Disruptions: The future for mid-market manufacturing, and her upcoming book, What To Ask, coming in June 2022.

She is a 4-time ADDY® award winner and host of the popular Customer Mission podcast. Her thoughts have been continually featured in news sources such as Chief Executive Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Harvard Business Review, Rotman Magazine, and more. Andrea is a sought-after speaker at conferences and corporate events throughout the world. She is a visiting lecturer and startup coach at the University of Iowa, a TEDx presenter, and TEDx speaker coach. She is also an instructor at the University of Iowa Venture School.

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