Learning from success and failure with third-party assessments

 In Professional Services, Solutions

However much we may wish otherwise, failure and success go hand in hand. The second often won’t come without the first. Even if it did, it would be difficult to replicate that success without knowing the many ways you could have come up short.

When it comes to business, success and failure are truly two sides of the same coin. Both need to be properly observed and catalogued for growth. Without understanding the reasons for each, you can’t duplicate or avoid those results. No matter what business you’re in, learning from your mistakes and successes will create a healthier product or service in the long run. And it begins with IT.

Of course, it can be hard to get perspective on your own systems or even your own product, which is why third-party assessments can be so helpful. Third parties add another layer of credibility, a different perspective, and sometimes, an extra dash of expertise. Here’s why you should look into third-party assessments and what they have to offer.

Taking on a third party

Third parties offer a great way to step back from your own systems, and get an outsider’s perspective. Whether it’s as informal as a simple phone call, or a full formal evaluation, third parties can often spot potential issues, drivers of success, and other elements you’ve grown blind to—if you’ve documented them at all.

However, you shouldn’t conduct a third-party assessment without first understanding your own goals. If you want to improve the way you roll out new devices, you should reach out to a vendor with that expertise. If your app can’t seem to crack the top 10 list in its category, consulting someone who has done that before may help you see what’s holding it back.

Some products, particularly those involving security or compliance, always deserve a third-party inspection and test before they’re released into the world. Doing so adds another layer of assurance that they function as intended.

Without a goal, your third-party assessment won’t give you actionable or relevant feedback. With a clear goal, however, feedback can inform a policy, procedure, or technology change that can actually transform your company.

Creating valuable feedback

While mistakes are often held up as a learning opportunity, success is rarely given the same treatment. According to Jamie Holmes’ book “Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing,” people tend to drop out of learning mode after experiencing a success. The old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” turns into an excuse for complacency.

A great example comes from motorcycle racing: Ducati’s 2003 performance in the MotoGP. Because Ducati’s bike was performing so successfully, the team didn’t take the time to figure out why it was successful, assuming the wins would keep coming. This complacency led to a disappointing final race that season.

While success is great, it can’t be replicated without an understanding of why it happened in the first place. The same goes for mistakes. Understanding why something failed, rather than pinning blame on someone, can lead to success the next time around.

Failing to do so can lead to unfair assumptions that hold back your organization in other ways. For example, if you introduce Apple devices into your environment and the rollout doesn’t go smoothly, you might blame Apple and avoid its products in the future. But maybe the deployment failed simply because your team tried to roll out Apple machines the same way you deploy Windows machines. Apple isn’t at fault. The devices were just implemented improperly, and therefore failed in your environment. If you were to try again, you could implement them the recommended way, and hopefully walk away with a success.

Above all else, learn

Third-party assessments can add value to your company and its products, but only if they’re conducted with concrete goals and the right mindset. They should be used to learn, not just to pass or fail a specific requirement.

Having a third party point out your mistakes may not be fun, but ignoring them never leads to consistent, repeated success. It’s important to tinker with your creations and be open to outside assessment. Success isn’t just a check mark on a page. It’s a process. Make sure to treat it as such.

Unnati Jain and Samantha Fitzgerald contributed to this post.

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