The 70% Right Doctrine


Last week a marketing colleague at GE Healthcare was sharing with me that he needs to work on making decisions faster.  He works in the financial division and has been historically known for his analytical ability and robust analysis.  However, recently he has received feedback (via 360) that traditional strengths are being perceived as weaknesses.  In particular, he’s now perceived as being “slow to make decisions” and they question his “flexibility.”  He asked me for my advice.

Here’s what I said:

“One thing I’ve noticed in people who make good and timely decisions is that they look to get it directionally right, without analysis paralysis.  I’ve particularly noticed this at the two start-ups I’ve had the opportunity to market, Centocor and Agility Healthcare.  Their management team had this unsaid, yet living philosophy of getting to 70% accuracy then acting on the decision.”

Their philosophy is basically that if you get something 70% right, it’s good enough.  Why?

5 Reasons to Adopt the 70% Right Doctrine

 

  1.  No one really has the time or the resources to get decisions 100% right.  Ever.  
  2. Every decision is a point in time with certain parameters (competition, market forces, client expectations, etc.) constantly shifting.  So, all decisions, at some level, are outdated the longer you work on them.  Therefore learn to make decisions that are directionally right, faster. 
  3. Because of No. 2, all decisions require some modifications at execution.  Meaning that final time to execution will always be adjusted anyway.  So, if you know your decision is directionally right and some modifications will be needed, live with the ambiguity and adjust for it, faster.
  4. Being first, even if 70% right, is better than being 100% right and second – most of the time.  Entrepreneurs know this and live by this doctrine.  This is widely recognized as the first mover advantage.
  5. There are inherent advantages to first movers.  According to Wiki , first movers can capitalize on 3 primary areas:

A.       Technological leadership.

B.       Preemption of scares resources.

C.        Switching costs and buyer choice under uncertainty. 

Commentary

 

There are clearly pluses and minuses to this doctrine.  But, I propose that for MOST of us, we do not need to obsess on getting to 100% accuracy on everything.  Seth Godin, in his book Linchpin, refers to such people as perfectionists who never “ship” the product in their endless pursuit of needless incremental improvements.  My colleague Joe (@jcamaratta) refers to this as “chainsaw accuracy.”

What we do in marketing is not “rocket science,” as sophisticated as it can be.  Consider adopting the 70% Doctrine!

 

Good marketing!

Ramiro Roman

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4 thoughts on “The 70% Right Doctrine”

  1. Marketer’s rule to succeed by, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” We all agree. A good plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow.
    Just for fun, what do you think about this one? “Mediocrity is the enemy of excellence.”

    1. Rez, good thought on “mediocrity is the enemy of excellence.” As a principle I cannot disagree. But I can humbly say that nothing I do is 100% excellent, most of my work is my very best effort in the allotted time/resources.

      In practical, when can we really achieve excellence? That’s really the trade-off of the 70% doctrine – by the way in it there should be a level of excellence, but not perfection. By no means should you do something mediocre, that would just go back to prioritization, where I just would rather not do it at all.

      Thanks for the engagement!

      Ramiro Roman

  2. MM- I would agree with your post… there’s also a strong believe among my peers that a decent strategy flawless executed is better than a great strategy poorly executed… obviously both great strategy & execution would be ideal, but if you have to sacrifice something, it cannot be the execution.

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