Lessons Learned From A Loss

I’m not one that accepts defeat easily.  In part, it’s the competitive nature in me.  It’s also the fact that I’m an only child so I’m used to getting my way.  But when it comes to missing out on an opportunity to work on a fun business project, you need to evaluate and figure out what the lesson is to be learned.

Here is the background.  MRM Detroit was given the opportunity to pitch a website redesign project.  After a lot of hard work to come up with 4 designs we thought this potential client would appreciate, we were awarded the business.  We were subsequently presented with a new requirement that wasn’t part of the original scope and needed to quickly assess what could and couldn’t be done.  Our point of view was that it significantly increased the amount of work and budget and could jeopardize the live date of the site.  So we pushed back.  We did commit to delivering on the original scope but presented the clients with some other options…one of which was to delay the launch so we could go back to the drawing board and do this right.  The clients picked the “delay” option but with the caveat that they would open up the redesign for bid again.  Needless to say, they picked the other agency and awarded the project to them.

So now what?  After a few days of being disappointed, I decided to take the approach of “what can I take from this experience and apply moving forward.”

Don’t Commit To Something You Don’t Believe In
Nothing good can come of this.  The requirement being asked of us after being awarded the business was technology that was innovative but not something we as an agency had done (yet) or would really recommend.  We backed up our POV with research we had done with some of our larger clients.  Additionally, we felt in order to protect our agency’s reputation as well as the client’s brand, to try to develop something that wasn’t broadly being used as well as in a timeframe that wasn’t reasonable didn’t make sense.  We did make the commitment to partner and collaborate with our clients on this project but wanted to do it in a way that was strategic and would benefit everyone.

Be Specific And Know Your Role
Looking back on this experience, there was a lot of ambiguity in the process.  One thing that we did when we re-pitched the project was clearly list out the assumptions we had going into it.  We made sure that we listed out what we knew our responsibilities were and our assumptions on what client responsibilities were.  Whenever going into a project, knowing who was doing what can certainly ensure seamless delivery and launch.  If you’re not sure, ask.  If you disagree, discuss.  If you agree, approve and go.

What You Don’t Know, Learn To Do
The new requirement was responsive web design.  We’ve never built this for a client.  It’s new and there are 2 big names I found that are using it fully…Barack Obama and The Boston Globe.  Why hasn’t MRM built a site with this?  This morning I sent an e-mail to our technology, user experience and interactive teams suggesting we do a prototype.  Guess what?  They agreed.  We may not be currently doing this for a client but we certainly need the expertise and background to provide innovative solutions for our clients.

There you have it…lessons learned from a loss.  We may not like it but there is always an opportunity to learn something when things don’t go exactly your way.  What lessons have you learned in losses?


4 thoughts on “Lessons Learned From A Loss

  1. There are always good lessons in disappointment. At the very least, you should be proud of yourselves for standing up for what you believe and providing the client the very best counsel. If you were on my team, I would reward you for that behavior. It shows excellent ethics…no matter if the client agrees or not.

    • Thanks, Gini. This was a tough one to get over. I really wanted this for the agency. Being able to work on non-automotive projects is something that would be a real motivator for everyone.

      The good news is, we did turn this into something that will still allow people to get their creative juices flowing with being able to build prototypes. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. With every missed opportunity comes a lesson learned. Like Gini said, be proud that you stood your ground, and continue finding opportunities to learn and grow when things don’t work out the way you want them to. Ultimately, that’s how we become stronger and wiser. 🙂

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