But it works . . .

Challenge some seemingly dubious strategy and you’re likely to get this sort of response: “Yeah, I know, but it works….”

Of course we send a lot of email, but every time we increase the frequency we see higher marginal sales.

I know charging for internet access seems crazy, but have you seen the growth in our ancillary revenue?

Raising late fees seems annoying, but our “other income” line is our biggest growth area.

Sure “enhanced interrogation techniques” don’t seem right, but just look at all the actionable intelligence we’ve gained. 

Often times the problem with the “but it works” answer is that it’s defined from a single, short-term point of view.

The person charged with email campaign effectiveness doesn’t notice that Net Promoter Scores are declining and opt-out rates are increasing among critically important customer segments.

The manager tasked with growing revenue per room, isn’t the same one paying attention to repeat booking rates.

The VP charged with driving credit card fee income isn’t responsible for customer retention and cardholder satisfaction.

Those with the singular purpose of stopping the next terrorist attack can’t fathom the broad-ranging impact of trashing our values and many other unintended consequences.

If you’re going to default to the “but it works” defense, it’s important to define your terms and take a holistic view. Plenty of things appear effective when seen from a single perspective.

And just because it’s effective doesn’t make it right.



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