Here is one of Nelson Mandela’s most famous quotes: “I never lose, either I win or I learn.” You’ve probably seen this quote over and over again. I myself have the impression that it appears very regularly on my LinkedIn thread. But I must say that I like it! There is no doubt that Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest men of the XXth century. The first black president of South Africa, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1993, he left the imprint of a giant in history …
This sentence, more specifically, also sends a very positive message. It’s an invitation to always go ahead, to see the good side of things without ever being discouraged by obstacles. Finally, never to despair, even in the most compromised situations.
What’s the problem in this case?
The problem with this sentence is that it leaves too much room for personal interpretation, sometimes even without respecting Mandela’s original idea. Misunderstood, it leads you to repeated failure rather than success.
It can put you in a position where it becomes acceptable to make almost as many mistakes as you want. Indeed, you assume that, anyway, you always learn a little more each time!
The question is: Do you REALLY learn when you fail? If so, why would people tend to repeat the same mistakes over and over again?
You could also interpret this sentence as follows: “Ignore this error, since it was not really one anyway, was it? It was an apprenticeship… “.
Now consider this formula from an unknown author:
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You will never live long enough to do them all yourself! ”
You now see chess from a new perspective. You must now learn two lessons:
1. Make sure you always learn from your own mistakes
This means that you must first agree to acknowledge your mistakes, both with yourself and with others, in order to be fully aware of them.
Next, you need to analyze your own “black box” (inspired by Matthew Syed’s Black Box Thinking) to identify the root cause of your error. So you’ll know how to avoid it next time.
Only by doing this dual process will you truly learn from your mistakes and avoid repeating them.
The same principle also applies to collective organizations: everyone must learn from the mistakes of those around them, in order to avoid reproducing them. Which brings us to our second point.
2. Learn from the mistakes of others
Remember: you will never live long enough to make all the possible and unimaginable mistakes. So you must necessarily learn from others if you want to succeed one day.
I often read misleading articles about the process ” test and learn “: Test, test, test over and over and over (and maybe) you’ll find what works for you. Funny lesson …
This type of message has been encouraged and amplified in recent years by large A / B testing companies. Logic: the more you test, the longer you will use their software (paid). Eh yes !
To quote my partner Jochen: “A / B testing and MVTs (multivariate testing) are often reduced to throwing Yak dung against the wall and seeing what remains stuck”. In other words: you need to have solid hypotheses to test before running A / B tests. You also need to make sure that you have enough traffic to get meaningful results. Otherwise, it comes down to guessing.
The purpose of this article is not to explain how to optimize your site for a better conversion rate. But, taking a little height, we can summarize your objectives in 4 points:
- You want to get quick wins;
- You want to know quickly what is good for your site;
- You want to avoid mistakes already made in similar businesses by competitors or partners;
- You want to test hypotheses solid so you can validate them by A / B tests (if you have enough traffic nonetheless).
Elementary my dear Watson. But how can you do this with a high degree of certainty without going through A / B testing ??
Well, think about what your website has in common with ALL other sites: USERS. People, real people guided by their emotions.
This means that with a good understanding of the behavior of your users, you can already fix most of the problems on your site in a short time, identify the quick wins and avoid the mistakes that others have made before you.
This is where consumer psychology and the science of persuasion can help. Researchers in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics, such as Daniel Kahneman or Dan Ariely, have conducted studies to demonstrate how individuals react to given situations and contexts. They have shown that individuals are guided by their emotions and cognitive biases more than by their thinking. Thus, if you know how to apply persuasion tactics to your site, you will simplify your work and you will become more efficient.
You could even apply these principles to your personal life. Behavioral economics is a fascinating subject. I always recommend that my friends and my teams discover it, both for themselves and to improve their working method.