It's ok to be wrong sometimes | npENGAGE

It’s ok to be wrong sometimes

By on Jul 9, 2010 | NONPROFIT-FUNDRAISING

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I’m a huge NPR fan and not afraid to admit it. What I am often afraid to admit is when I am wrong – just ask my friends and family. Perhaps you are like me and are wondering if the Paul the oracle octopus  will be right on his prediction for Spain to win the World Cup. He’s been right on so far. But he could be wrong.

So when I read this interview with Ira Glass yesterday – which has a lot about being wrong, this piece really stuck out for me:

“One of the reasons I was interested in doing this interview is because I feel like being wrong is really important to doing decent work. To do any kind of creative work well, you have to run at stuff knowing that it’s usually going to fail. You have to take that into account and you have to make peace with it.”

It got me thinking about our work online. You can’t really learn about what is tried and true without trying different things and being wrong from time to time. There are a lot of great innovators online and it’s likely what we don’t hear about is all the things they tried that failed, in order to get them where they are today.

A few thoughts about being wrong online:
• Monitor your statistics. Your intuitions may be right on. But sometimes they are not. It’s ok. Use the data to help you learn.
• Remember, you don’t have to test new things on everyone. Pick specific smaller segments of your file to test new messages, ideas, programs, etc.
• Technology changes, housefiles change, hot button issues change. Just because it’s tried and true, doesn’t mean it can’t change. Retest those assumptions from time to time. What was once right might now be wrong.
• Be honest about when you were wrong. Don’t hide it, share with your colleagues, learn and move on.

I know, it’s easier said than done.  There’s a great example here where the Humane Society of the United States tried something new and failed, but found a silver lining in an unexpected donations boost. Let’s all keep trying new things, being wrong, examining our data and learning.

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