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    Fast fail, or fast success?

    Peter Shafer, Vice President, Digital Solutions

    Many of my conversations with clients now focus on the best ways to implement fast fail methods and systems within marketing groups and market research departments. One of the questions I ask in these meetings is “How different would a fast success system be?” I often get ambiguous responses. Still, if I were to summarize, the most common reply is that fail fast helps eliminate, through data, ideas and designs earlier in the ideation and development process. Basically, it reduces the likelihood that projects with little or no merit exist in the development pipeline.

    Regardless of which terminology you favor – fast fail or fast success – one consequence is that fast results in “more” – more projects, more tests, more results, which in turn translates into compressed research cycles and reporting times. Being clear on what “success” looks like is imperative. And the case to implement a quick survey system to save time, money and improve results continues to be very compelling for fast success as well as fast fail.

    But after a number of these conversations and listening to speakers at various industry events, I have to wonder if there is a need to seek balance between fast fail and fast success?

    I believe the answer emphatically is yes. The focus on balance is achieved when we ask the simple question – does this data provide a roadmap for growth? My observation is that while the process of elimination has been refined, well understood and sped up immensely with tools like QuickSurveys, most marketers still struggle with creating systems for fast success. The struggle is two-fold – one, defining what success looks like in the data and the market; and two, determining whether the data is predicting success or providing increased odds for success.

    C-Suite executes obviously want both – predictability (so they can assure investors’ financial success) and high odds of success (good use of their capital).

    Toluna’s proprietary survey engine, QuickSurveys, continues to allow marketers and market researchers to test new ideas, concepts and so many other things with various consumer segments easily and quickly. Further, many of our clients are using their QuickSurveys account to test ideas that even a few short years ago would have died on the vine. Now, teams can dig deeper and do it in a fast and efficient fashion.

    Answer the following questions:
    • “Is being faster at collecting data making my insights better and more successful?”
    • “Are my recommendations more successful than in the past because of being faster?”
    • “Is faster actually opening up more time for me to spend more time analyzing the data?”

    The answer is probably no. Asking ourselves “what success looks like” gets us on the road to improved odds of success. The two ideologies –fast fail and fast success— complement each other; however, while one is well understood, the other remains poorly defined.

    Because of their innate flexibility and usability, real-time survey platforms give us an opportunity to re-think how we ask questions – and whether we are asking the right questions. We should aim to use these systems to better define success and balance out the process of eliminating bad ideas with actively developing good ones.