One of my daughters was in her first year of college when she spoke to her professor about how to turn in her assigned essay outside of his class. The teacher assured her she could come to his office later that day, and if he wasn’t there, that she should just slip it under his office door. My daughter arrived later at his office, knocked to see if he was there and then heard a loud angry growl from behind the door. At that point, my daughter questioned whether it was safe to slip the homework under the door. She didn’t want to become the first student to give her teacher the excuse, “YOUR dog ate my homework.”

I thought of that incident while working with a client recently because I have become convinced that they are running their company on excuses. No matter what they do, when it doesn’t work, they had a ready reason. Now, that can be great, because if you understand the reason something failed, you can fix it. But not in this case. They just rationalize why it didn’t work and they go off and try something else. When that doesn’t work, then they have another excuse.

As the author of Do It Wrong Quickly, I am not trying to say that everything should always work. Far from it. But when it doesn’t result in accountability, it has no purpose. We all must use metrics to measure our success in every form of marketing, and when we fall short, we can’t be using rationalizations to excuse the failure–instead we must keep changing what we are doing to try again until we succeed.

That might require a change to your company culture to focus on how to improve rather than reasons we are not responsible for failure. If you can’t make that shift, you might find that the world of big data is leaving you behind, because you can’t use the analytics to see where you are, much less change.