Do Businesses Learn?

Do businesses learn anything?

I was watching a video analysis of the 1986 Miami-Dade Shooting by Paul Harrell when he said something that made me really pay attention.

Paul’s discussion was about the police and FBI experience with two tragedies, first a cursory coverage of the 1970 Newhall Incident and second an in-depth look at Miami-Dade.

Organizational Behavior Lessons from Law Enforcement: Do Businesses Learn?

Every 15-20 years or so, Paul said, a major event like these shootings happens that results in a big shakeup of how police and FBI training is done.

He continued—and this is what really made me sit up—if the documentation is bad, the story of what happened can change over time.

Since the stories can change, the lessons law enforcement agencies think they learned from these incidents may be completely invalidated. Paul then gave a specific training example that resulted from Newhall, impacting at least two generations of law enforcement. The problem was, as the Internet allowed people to connect, those who were there encountered one another online, and some said the story leading to this change in training and methodology may never have happened.

If that doesn’t scare the heck out of you, I don’t know what to say.

Do Businesses Learn: How About Your Business?

I was really surprised to hear the word "documentation" being used in a weapons training video.

Take this to your business.

Since I run a business that investigates and maps processes for other businesses, I can tell you most organizations—even big companies—have nothing written down.

Their processes are practically non-existent and there’s little consistency between the way Dave does the task and the way Mary does the task. Simply talk to two customer service or sales reps at a business, large or small, and see how inconsistent the experience is. Not much data is collected (like what stage they are at in the process, when they complete a step, whether a problem stopped them and they had to go to ask for clarification from higher-ups, etc.)

And if little to no data is being collected, that means nearly all businesses really suck at documenting what happened.

What’s Paul Harrell’s conclusion, then, from his law enforcement examples? That the story will change over time. This means your story about what happened in your organization will change over time.

A Personal Answer To The Question Of: Do Businesses Learn?

Some of you know I’m a pretty good photographer.

A year ago today at the Wilmington Arboretum I was out in the afternoon taking pictures and a giant black and white roach with an interesting pattern landed on my shoulder. This was disturbing and I brushed it off. The thing fell to the bricks and played dead for awhile, finally ambling off into the undergrowth.

do businesses learn bug roach tall tale story retelling

I recorded the incident by sharing a picture of it on Facebook and writing a quick note that it was about 2-½” to 3” long.

Almost a year later, a couple days ago, a friend in another state posted a pic of this kind of roach and expressed her displeasure that it had been in her personal space. She wondered what it was. I responded with my example, and said my version was about 4” long.

I felt good about the number I reported.

It seemed right.

But this morning in FB Memories the original post from last year came up and I saw my documented evidence that the actual bug length was at least 25% less than what I’d told my friend. 25% different is NOT accurate.

In the past year, in the retelling of the story only one time, the bug had grown in my imagination.

I am a big fan of The Truth.

It’s the core value of my organization.

It irritates me that I’m human like everybody else and do the same things other people do, like accidentally tell tall tales. This bug got bigger in a single retelling of the story. What do you think happens with the stories of the heroic things your staff did and the demonic things your Customers From Hell did as time goes on and the retellings grow in frequency and sentiment?

This is how easy it is for your story of what happened to change, and the lessons learned to be changed as well. Thankfully I had documentation to tell me when I had made the error.

If you haven’t consistently well documented what happened, your business and your people and you won’t learn anything—and anything you do think you’ve learned will be invalidated because your story of what happened will change over time.

Here's a quick video I made about my reaction to Paul Harrell's video:

If you want help in clearing up your processes so you collect that data as it comes in, and thereby keep an accurate picture of what happened so the story won’t change, talk to me.


Being On Mission When No One Is Watching

Being on mission is not easy. Let's get personal. Five years ago I wrote a post about how you can really paint yourself into a corner. The subject was the possible price of success, and whether you are willing to pay it.

Back then I was a big fish in a small pond. Online marketing was still in its infancy and people looked to me for direction. Of course I was not the only person nor even one of the most prominent people in the industry, but I was a lot more visible than I am today. In the time since, the marketplace has become overrun with shouting, unskilled marketers: when the barrier to entry is the cost of a Facebook ad at pennies a click, anyone can claim expertise and draw leads into a funnel.

Let me be clear: I was around in this field when Facebook ads did not exist. I remember when advanced targeting for Facebook ads came out...and I remember because it was painful. I had just blown through $3000 in a week doing the incredibly sinful thing of sending traffic directly to a conversion tool. (Don't do that. Leadgen has never been my thing. I'm a Conversion guy and now hire smarter people to handle Traffic generation.)

At any rate having seen the 2014 article it got me wondering where my thinking about success and the price to be paid for success is at today.

megatron character price of success who are you are when no one is looking being on mission

The Evolution of Being On Mission

I have seen many "flash in the pan" marketers appear, make a splash, and then vanish back into the murk as quickly as they arrived.

I have witnessed many people become the temporary darling of the marketing world (ah, to be that individual again as I was for a time in 2012), the golden boy who is the shiny object that will fix all problems...and watched as they, too, either submerged never to appear again or instead elevated to guru status and became one of the old boys of the IM field.

I saw Frank Kern capitalize on his "surfer dude" persona...only to change it a few years later via a snazzy square haircut and suiting up, and become the President of the Internet. And good for him: while I don't slavishly follow his initiatives I do believe he generally wants to help people, and does know what works.

There are young marketers today who don't know who Frank is.

They don't recognize the name Dan Kennedy, either.

You don't have to, of course: it's not a prerequisite to have studied the past to be successful in the future.

I have become a small fish in a vast ocean.

Being On Mission and Your Definition of Success

Success to me means something different than it did five years ago. Back then it was largely about dominating the marketplace...being the go-to guy for answers on Conversion topics. Ensuring that as much of the traffic as I could get was drawn my way. I knew I was in the best position to help those folks.

A hell of a lot of "Tall Poppy Syndrome" was going on in and around that marketplace at the time. Some people just couldn't stand it that someone else was doing better than they were. Occasionally some of these individuals raise their heads and bray, unconscious of the fact that I have long since moved on and they have not. If you intend to be successful, you will have to put up with this kind of nonsense.

Which reminds me: an aside. Something I have noted about hate is that everyone squeals. When they are not the subject, they will tell you, "Be cool; water off a duck's back." But when it's their turn as the target, when the cannons are turned upon them, they squeal as loudly as everyone else.

Back to the price of success. When your personal definition of success has changed, the price to be paid changes.

Much of that price for me personally is encapsulated in this question: "Who should get my time?"

I suppose this question was hidden in the background half a decade ago as well. But it is most prominent today.

The Ongoing Results of Being On Mission And The Meaning of Success

In pursuit of answering this question I have expanded and raised the level of my circle. These decisions have forced me to stop pursuing some things I have been good at in favor of others I am not so good at...yet. And on an almost daily basis I have had to confront the "Can I really do this?" question.

As your circle of control and influence expands, you'll be running up against problems that are larger than anything you've ever tried to handle before.

My 2014 problems were centered around straightforward sales & marketing.

My 2019 problems are centered around often-undefined subjects of attention and focus.

My concept of the system I'm operating in has moved from closed to open.

The problems I see today are frequently overwhelming: considerations about the future and how human life will be, what to do about serious problems we face today, how we can use technology in ethical ways to solve those problems.

Data science and philosophy have bubbled up to the top.

It has been said that character is who you are when no one is looking.

And it goes both ways. Megatron is "on mission" regardless of whether the world is watching or not.

What does success mean to you? And what price are you willing to pay for it?

>> Jason Kanigan is a business strategist and conversion expert. Book your session with Jason by clicking here <<


Why Buy Books Or Courses?

Why buy books or courses?

My answer is of course my opinion, though that opinion is backed with many years of experience. And I presume you're reading my blog because you're at least interested in if not value my opinion.

Most people buy books or courses for the wrong reason.

Why Buy Books Or Courses In Your World

Here's what I see most people's buying behavior driven by in the online marketing world:

You buy books or courses because you are looking for the magic bullet.

You are looking for a quick win.

You are looking for the easy answer.

These are bad reasons.

The truth is you're unlikely to find the answers in what amounts to a shiny object.

Success comes from many factors, and most of all from the internal sense of success that you have about yourself. Your beliefs. Your outlook. And these lead to the actions you will (or won't) take.

My Answer To "Why Buy Books Or Courses?"

My answer, which you shouldn't really be surprised at by now, is quite different.

I buy a book or a course because I have identified a NEED.

There is a GAP between what I know and where I want to go.

Take this book:

operational excellence why buy books or courses

This is a $57 book.

Why did I buy it?

I was not looking for a fast answer.

I did not need help with process, in terms of "How do I do what I do?"

I wasn't lacking some transformational magic bullet that would change my life.


I invested in this book because I wanted a specific thing. I wanted some words and phrasing around problems business owners have when they're looking for improvements in operational excellence. These are vital to the effectiveness of the starting point of my marketing & sales funnel.

What better source than a book on that topic?

Have I got some pain point language from my own experience? Of course. But I wanted outside opinions. Something different, something new to me.

And it was well worth it to make what a lot of people would think of as a scary investment ("No way am I spending $57 on a book") in order to find that out.

Note how specific my need was.

How easily success would be met by the investment.

How big the payoff is (five and six figure projects) from this decision.

And now contrast these terms with those, probably not fully clear or understood, you've been using in your decisions about why to buy books or courses until now.

>> Jason Kanigan is a business strategist and process optimization expert--whether it is a sales process or fulfillment process, we should speak. <<