Failing Forward by Jeffrey Henning, #AMSRS

Live blogged at #AMSRS 2015 National Conference. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.


  • there is always a tremendous fear of failure, an F on a report card or being called a failure at a business meeting
  • father in law joined an electronics store and sold transistors, started his own business which was successful, wanted to pass business onto his son who refused because his son knew the internet would change everything, so he kept doing things the same way as he always did and his business when bankrupt – he wasn’t willing to risk what he knew worked
  • Bill Gates – success is a lousy teacher, it’s an unreliable guide to the future
  • there are day to day opersonal failures, short term tactical failures, long term strategic failures
  • operational failures – terrible response rates, bad lists, didn’t budget for incentives, twitter sampling leading to spam attacks, skip logic error – testing logic not how people would actually answer the survey 
  • you can prepare a survey checklist of every item that must be checked before a survey goes live [i do this 🙂 ]
  • also consider doing a survey post-partum – what went right or wrong
  • tactical failures – recurring problems – clients couldn’t edit their charts so they had to change the system to accomodate that, though clients may be happy with the end project you might be very unhappy
  • They use a lot of software – excel, hermes, poseidon, fogbugz, questionpro, survey gizmo, decipher, surveymonkey, verint – they have templated checklists for all of these, constantly keep track of things they want to change or improve, learn on what to improve from every project
  • strategic failures – mainly product launches, tried a text analytics product in 1996 way ahead of its time when people didn’t have a lot of text to analyze, last three products failed but led to success of  their last product a survey product
  • He coined the term Enterprise Feedback Management. [how cool is that!]
  • you can’t coast on one success
  • pretend before you spend – pretotyping
  • The Palm Pilot was planned as the inventor carried a block of wood from meeting to meeting pretending to use it as he would use a real product
  • what is the smallest product you can build that will be viable – check out StatWing, very limited SPSS type of product
  • don’t build the pieces of the product – build a skateboard, a bike, and then a car

One response

  1. Shrimp-blogs is a’comin’ their sails are in sight…..

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