So, the other day, my 10-year-old daughter says to me, “Daddy, why do all the books you read say ‘Leadership’ on the front? Why is that all you read about?”
“Well,” I say, “leadership is one of the topics I’m learning more about this year.”
“But, why do you need to read books about it?” she continues, “Shouldn’t you be your own kind of leader? Why do you need to copy what other people say?”
My first thought: Who has been sneaking into the house and teaching this kid to be so smart?
My second thought: I hope she never stops asking questions like that.
My third thought: She’s right. Learning shouldn’t be an exercise in copying what’s worked for others. Their truths are only true for them. And my experiences and learning may only apply to my situation. I could meticulously copy the habits, attitudes and actions of Steve Jobs and end up a colossal failure. His leadership methods are probably not going to work for me.
On the other hand, there is huge value in learning what has worked for others, and in taking inspiration to find your own way.
That’s why Steve Jobs is part of my personal mentor wall, along with Edison, Ghandi, Picasso, Hitchens, Jim Carrey (for his vision and drive, not necessarily all his movies). Each one of them reminds me of a certain characteristic I want to remind myself of.
Each of them are multi-dimensional people and could inspire many different qualities, but they particularly inspired me in these areas:
- Persistence – Thomas Edison
- Influence – Mahatma Ghandi
- Expression – Pablo Picasso
- Intelligence – Christopher Hitchens
- Vision – Jim Carrey
- Boldness – Steve Jobs
Inspiration is a start and is important. The learning I gain from others is especially useful when they’ve assembled their knowledge into practical frameworks. Frameworks make their particular insights applicable to other situations.
What do you get from learning how others have solved problems?
- Inspiration. The more stories I discover about successful people, the more encouragement I feel that anything can be overcome.
- Frameworks for thinking about the challenges you’re facing. Thinking about problems from differing perspectives, and using different frameworks, teaches your brain to explore all possibilities.
- Discipline. Even though my kids think of “discipline” as a negative word, it’s clearly necessary for long-term success. Learning new frameworks stretches my mind and keeps it focused on the problems at hand, allowing the focused concentration time needed for my mind’s goal-striving mechanism (or as Maxwell Maltz refers to it in Psycho-Cybernetics, the Servo Mechanism) to lock onto a problem and seek a solution.
Great frameworks separate the pro from the amateur
People often ask me what makes WiderFunnel different than other optimization agencies. I was actually just asked that question again today.
And, while there are many possible answers: great clients, amazing team, high-performance culture, awesome results, years of experience, deep test archives, etc, one aspect stands out.
I made an important decision when we began as a purely Conversion Rate Optimization agency back in 2007. I decided that we would focus on developing framework thinking rather than assembling lists of tips and tricks.
To do that, we needed to learn what actually works through A/B testing, which meant that WiderFunnel would only take projects we could learn from by A/B testing everything.
This was the more difficult path than others have taken, but one I believed would produce better results and knowledge in the long term.
And it has worked.
We’ve run more tests than anyone and developed a more refined and robust process because we’ve focused on refining the process, not just on selling opinions. Selling opinions is easy. Testing and refining our own frameworks is hard.
You can use framework thinking in your work too
I love Sean Johnson’s article about using framework thinking. It’s a reminder that giving an opinion is easy; finding a list of tips and tricks to answer your question is easy. But, finding a framework to help you answer your question is more robust. It gives you an answer that doesn’t expire when one of the variables changes.
Search for frameworks to help you answer your questions and you’ll find a path to continued improvement.
Conversion optimization frameworks
In your conversion optimization work, you’ll likely need to answer questions such as:
- Where should I test?
- What should I test?
- How does my audience perceive my product?
To answer questions like those (and more), WiderFunnel has developed frameworks to use within our optimization process. You can adopt and adapt these frameworks in your CRO work too.
Need to know where to target your test zone?
Use the PIE Framework for prioritizing tests.
Wondering why your visitors aren’t converting?
Use the LIFT Model™ to view your marketing touchpoints from their perspective. It has become the world’s most popular optimization hypothesis framework for a reason.
What is your most important value proposition to test?
Try brainstorming with the points of difference (PODs), points of parity (POPs), and points of irrelevance (POIs).
The evolution of the best optimization process
As we continue to optimize high volume businesses, WiderFunnel’s process itself is also constantly being reviewed and optimized. We run quarterly projects with our whole team, called “focus areas”, to evolve how we operate to continuously add more value.
As a result, we now have a process model to share! It’s called the Infinity Optimization Process™.
In the coming weeks, I will provide a more detailed explanation of this next generation of WiderFunnel’s system and how it will continue to deliver the best optimization results in the industry. Make sure you’re subscribed to the blog to get the updates on where we’re leading.
UPDATE: We’ve now published the detailed description of the Infinity Optimization Process here.
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