Monday, November 26, 2012

[GTS Mindset] Avoiding the false proxy via Seth Godin

Great Blog Post, Seth always inspires something new in my brain.

Avoiding the false proxy trap via Seth Godin

"Sometimes, we can't measure what we need, so we invent a proxy, something that's much easier to measure and stands in as an approximation. 
TV advertisers, for example, could never tell which viewers would be impacted by an ad, so instead, they measured how many people saw it. Or a model might not be able to measure beauty, but a bathroom scale was a handy stand in
A business person might choose cash in the bank as a measure of his success at his craft, and a book publisher, unable to easily figure out if the right people are engaging with a book, might rely instead on a rank on a single bestseller list. One last example: the non-profit that uses money raised as a proxy for difference made. 
You've already guessed the problem. Once you find the simple proxy and decide to make it go up, there are lots of available tactics that have nothing at all to do with improving the very thing you set out to achieve in the first place. When we fall in love with a proxy, we spend our time improving the proxy instead of focusing on our original (more important) goal instead.
I see people fall into this "false proxy" trap all the time... gauging all of their "success" in one measurement that is a small part of their overall goal.

  • Beauty and self confidence is not measured on a scale. 
  • Strength and self confidence is not measured by size of muscle.
  • Health and/or strength is not measured by body fat percentage or ability to view your abs.
  • Happiness is not based on how much money you have in the bank, net worth, etc.
I agree its smart to set specific milestones and objectives that will help you achieve your goals.  Track progress, observe measurement changes over time and use those measurements to make adjustments and continue progressing. But don't make the mistake of judging the entire success or failure of your end goal on missing a milestone.  It's possible you may have gained something else unexpected in the process. 

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