A while back I read an article about the hit 1997 Nintendo game GoldenEye, and it was notable how one of its key software developers didn’t rush to take too much credit for its success:
“With some projects the stars align. Yes, you work hard. Yes, the team is talented. But that isn’t enough. The entire world needs to be in the right place. It’s a mistake to attribute success to your own brilliance.”
Perhaps this is true for a product such as a game—especially a game in 1997. Success is judged very much by purchases and revenue, and not much else.
But it’s less true the more degrees of freedom we have in any of our projects, products, services or programmes. For example, an online product or service has greater opportunity to test alternative ideas and pivot accordingly, because there are opportunities for A/B testing and low cost updates.
It’s fine to define success in monetary terms, but even if we did that we can see it from several perspectives: gross annual revenue, profit, monthly recurring revenue, etc. Non-monetary dimensions might include number of users, engagement (which also needs to be defined further, with plenty of options there), new business opportunities created, new product lines spawned, and so on.
It’s true there are plenty of factors that are outside of our control. But there is much we can influence, and very often we make our own luck. When we find lots of variables we have a better chance to identify and achieve some kind of meaningful success.