Success is Not Linear: Temporary Or Permanent Setback?

In school, not all setbacks are identical. Those at the end of the term tend to be of greater importance. Mistakes made at the end of your degree are even more damaging, though not fatal. Imagine if you learn during the second lecture that a student in your group dropped out. Is this anything worth fussing over? Of course not, but imagine if on presentation day, the student with the disk for your presentation fails to show.

Some setbacks are temporary. Imagine working on a marketing paper and hoping for your preliminary research to demonstrate the viability of a new product. What do you do when results show that consumers would not pay for it? Do you panic? No, perhaps people were not informed of the benefits. In such a case, the product label and packaging can be altered to entice consumers to buy. A temporary setback such as this is a good thing in the long term.

Other setbacks are more permanent but in the long-term fade in importance. The airline industry suffered a mortal blow as a result of the 9/11 attacks. Imagine if a class was assigned to devise a marketing approach for an airline company to increase sales. Before 9/11, the group may have looked at increasing sales generated by business travel. This would have been a feasible approach but after 9/11 the reality was that the business flyer was the first one to cut back on airfare. Corporate spenders sought to shun spending on airfare and focused on teleconferencing. A group in business school would have had to take this into consideration and alter their recommendation if they were studying the case in the fall of 2001.

Other times, setbacks are permanent. A firm losing a top executive has to reshuffle the cards and hit the drawing board again. The best ones though do not miss a beat and walk to the beat of their own different drummer.

Was This The War Or Just A Battle?

Another question you should ask yourself is whether a setback represented a lost battle or a defeat in war? There is a big difference and how well you size up the situation will determine what remedy you prescribe.