All the management textbooks tell us how dangerous it can be to confuse assumptions with facts. Although this is not a clear example of that confusion, despite years of experience, I partly fell into that trap with my entry into the Surviving the Blog contest that I wrote about in a previous post.
Like Tiger Woods missing the cut in a major golf competition, I did not make the first cut in the Surviving the Blog contest. I cannot claim to be as good a writer as Tiger is a golfer, but I honestly thought I had a good chance of getting through the first round of the competition.
In the rules it was stated that an existing blog was not a requirement, a guest post on another blog would be sufficient. It also gave clear rules to be followed for an entry to be accepted, length of post, cut off dates, publicity in the form of tweets or mentions in Social Media, publishing of a list of sponsors and various other requirements that were easily understood.
As far as I could determine, there was no mention of the need to campaign for votes from supporters.
My assumption then was that each entrant would be judged on the merits of the blog post submitted as the entry and that where an entry was a post on the entrants own blog, the blog itself, its popularity with visitors, design and content would all carry some weight.
A blog’s ability to attract visitors as shown by its Alexa rating was not a factor either, the blogs that did not make the cut all had better than average rankings. Some that survived had very poor numbers.
There was a short period when support in the form of votes could be canvassed, some contestants did well at attracting votes, I did not have the time or, if I am honest, the inclination to actively campaign for votes. But votes were not a major factor in the judges decisions either we were told.
The criteria for the selection of the final 10 have not been disclosed. Whatever criteria the judges did use, they made their decisions and I have no complaints.
Could I have done better if I had adopted a different strategy for the contest, the content and style of my entry and then my tactics? Possibly, but it was a last-minute decision to enter just two days before the deadline, my time to seek votes or get involved in endless commenting on the contest blog was limited.
As for content, tone and style, my entry was composed in my style, that’s who I am, a sum of all my experiences and values. I know my conservative outlook, political incorrectness and distrust of big government upset some people, but that should not have been a problem in this case. I tried to keep the tone light, content was prescribed by the rules.
With hindsight, and because votes obviously carried some weight (although I did not receive the lowest number of votes), about the only thing I would have done differently is entered earlier and written a more detailed profile. My second assumption was that the profile was merely to give the judges some background, not to attract votes.
It will be interesting to see which bloggers survive the next cut, I am quite happy that I can watch from the sidelines and not get caught up in the intrigue of supporting some players while setting others up for a fall.
Lessons from this exercise:
- Read the rules thoroughly and repeatedly.
- Make sure we understand exactly what is required.
- Allow sufficient time for the task.
- Speculate on unstated factors that could be important.
It is many, many years since I have had to write examinations or enter competitions, so this was a very good reminder of the importance of reading the instructions and not making assumptions.
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