Tag Archives: Rory Sutherland

As Far As the Headlights

Story of the Day for Friday April 27, 2012

As Far As Your Headlights

When God called Abraham, by faith he obeyed and went . . . even though he didn’t know where he was going. . . Abraham was looking forward to the city with foundations — where God was the architect and builder.
Hebrews 11:8,10

In Egypt, Israel groaned under the lash of slavery. They longed for freedom, but God promised them far more than an escape from slavery; he promised to lead them to a land “dripping with milk and honey.”

The path to the Promised Land, however, led through a trackless wilderness. God told them the destination, but only He knew the route. As the days wore on they lost sight of the goal. They no longer strode toward their dream; they trudged.

Once they forgot their destination, they became demoralized and demanded that Moses lead them back to Egypt — even if that meant a return to slavery.

When we forget where we’re going, turning back to where we used to be is far more comfortable.

When I came down with strep throat, my doctor would gave me antibiotics. He cautioned me to continue taking the pills until they were all gone. But after a few days I would start feeling perky again, and would quit taking them.

Recently, I’ve been cheered to learn I have comrades. The most common problem in fighting resistant bacteria is patients who quit taking the full course of antibiotics once they start feeling better.

The medical community sought help with this problem from, of all people, Rory Sutherland — a marketing guru from an advertising agency. His solution was simple: “Don’t give them twenty-four white pills,” he advised. “Give them twenty white pills and four blue ones, and tell them to take the blue pills after they’ve finished the white ones.”

Even though the blue pills were no different — other than color — it worked. Instead of taking pills until they felt better, patients focused on the pills at the end of the process — those four blue pills.

When God called Abraham to leave his home and travel to a new land, the Bible says Abraham didn’t know where he was going. He didn’t know where he’d pitch his tent the next day. He didn’t need to. Abraham saw that the journey’s end would lead him home to God. Abraham saw the destination and trusted in the mercy of God to get him there. And that’s why he never turned back.

When you see the goal, you can walk without seeing what’s around the bend. Life is a lot like novelist E. L. Doctorow’s description of completing a book. “Writing a novel,” he says, “is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The Main Thing

Story of the Day for Thursday February 16, 2012

The Main Thing

                            David’s conscience pierced him after he numbered the people. So David told the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in doing this.”  

                                                2 Samuel 24:10

Rory Sutherland, a British advertising guru, likes to cite the maxim: Any metric that becomes a target loses its value as a metric.

Much to our relief he explains what he means. Businesses seek ways to measure their progress toward their company’s goals. But once the focus becomes improving any certain statistic, the measurement is no longer reliable.

And, since my explanation is even more confusing than Sutherland’s maxim, let me give some examples.

 

A good goal for a shipping company would be to make a profit by providing timely deliveries of packages. So far so good. But suppose the company looks at their delivery times and focuses on improving this statistic? Once quicker delivery time becomes the goal, the best way to reach this objective is to cancel delivery to more remote areas. The result: the company’s statistics improve. But profits and service to the customer declines.

 

Sutherland gives a similar example with airline companies. How can an airline measure improved service? One way is by an increase in on-time departures. Departure times are measured from pushback — when the jet begins to move from the terminal. Once companies make it their goal to increase on-time departures, passengers often find themselves sitting on the runway for longer periods. But now latecomers are unable to board the flight. Again, by shifting the focus from the true goal of the company to improving the “numbers,” the statistics become a false indicator of progress.

Seeking to measure success, in other words, can sometimes make us less successful.

 

David should’ve known better. He had witnessed how God took a young shepherd boy and used him to defeat a fearsome warrior named Goliath. David saw how God blessed a valiant warrior — even though his followers were few and he was always on the run.

Now that David was anointed king, he should’ve learned that God had chosen him for his purposes, and that he would prosper as long as he trusted in the strength of the Lord.

Instead, David wanted to measure his strength. He focused, not on the power of God, but on the strength of his fighting force. David ordered Joab, his army commander, to number the people. Only afterward did he realize he was relying on the wrong measurement for success and asked for God’s forgiveness.

 

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)