Have you ever heard of the Swiss cheese model ?
In the model , a organization represents failure as a series of barriers, in the form of slices of cheese. And not “any” cheese, but Swiss cheese with holes, or “eyes”, like Emmental.
The holes in the sections represent weak points in the individual parts of the system and continuously vary in size and position between the sections.
According to Thomas Bering, Brand Measurement Lead at Google, in the
Top digital marketing trends and predictions for 2022
which Mountain View has recently published, “…the “Swiss cheese model” can help tie measurement efforts back to business value, by using several layers to get the best possible answer.
For example, video ads may not drive immediate conversions, but if done well, they will likely get a customer to consider your offering. When they search online, your brand will be on their radar and they will be more likely to buy it.
If you measure these efforts independently, one will be a massive expense while the other will look overly successful.
Neither is true, but your CFO will most likely prefer the latter.”
Although the Swiss cheese model has been subject to criticism, it can at least be used as a mental exercise to question the assumptions behind (y)our business decisions.
Which is extremely valuable.
In a digital marketing world, where measurement has become extremely easy, what remains difficult, after all, is how to interpret those data correctly.
And what about you?
What’s your favourite type of cheese?
The Problem with the cheese
Cheese itself is okay, but not everyone digest it properly. With dangerous flatulent consequences.
A first observation, quite obvious , is that the model considers empty space, holes, as the problem, in line with a typically materialistic approach to business.
If that was the case in the 20th century, a digital economy thrives by filling in the gaps rather than gaining weight. However, this first observation is rather formal.
A second, more important observation is that, as is usually the case with marketing & business modelling, at least in a digital environment, the problem often boils down to information asymmetry.
As the example of the aforementioned CFO points out, what is problematic is not the information itself (the cheese) but its more correct interpretation (the holes in the middle).
The problem of large organizations
Now, the problem arises when the Chief Financial Officer, who is anything but the (wo) man with his hand on the big money bag of a large organization, refuses to share the pie with the marketing team .
In short, the Swiss Cheese Model should help big spenders within a company demonstrate a clear value line behind their initiatives, their campaigns, their salaries.
As an entrepreneur once told me, “I get the impression that & nbsp; my employees spend 90% of their time trying to justify how they spend their time ! “, which sounds like a paradox, but not that much.
In economics, as in any science, pure analysis, formalities, standards and protocols are never an end in themselves but a linguistics necessary in the division of labor. They reveal the degree of experience, expertise and trust that a company can rely on.
In conclusion, a Swiss Cheese Model is just the eternal return of a ritual of belonging.
The problem with people
Above all, the proliferation of models and passwords in a corporate environment is the direct consequence of the differentiation of work: tasks become very technical and specific and only people, who have spent their entire existence digging, master the correct linguistics.
So, how can you tell the difference between a competent professional and an incompetent one without being? Sure, the numbers help, but they require interpretation. Methods help, but they require experience. Reference guide, but it requires trust.
There will always be holes in the cheese, not just in Emmental.
Today, an algorithm can rate competence and trustworthiness much better than a recruiter , so you’d better eat the cheese, or even cut it up , as long as you keep the window open to let in fresh air and innovation.
In conclusion, don’t waste people’s time asking them for constant proof of their proficiency.
You may find that holes are exactly what make your business thrive.