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04/28/2011 What's Your ROA?


ROI - return on investment - we've all heard about. Maybe more than we'd like.  Social marketers like to talk about ROE - return on engagement - especially since the data started showing that social marketing didn't drive sales. I have one more return acronym to add to the growing list: ROA - return on aggravation. And I'm wondering what your ROA is?

It started from a conversation with a colleague of mine. He was describing a project he was working on and how the process and people drove him crazy. His biggest issue was that all of the in-between time he used to spend coming up with good ideas (like when he went out for a run, or even taking a shower) he now spent spinning and re-spinning situations and events with these people on this project. His ROA was high and climbing.

I asked him what he thought he could accomplish if he reduced his ROA. His response was quick and to the point: he'd be happier, more productive and would have more time to help himself and his company.

All of us have ROA. The challenge is that the negative results deriving from it aren't always apparent right away. The aggravation a co-worker produces stops you from working successfully and furthering your own career. The aggravation a bad client produces stops you from creating great work and the time to find clients who you work better with (and are more profitable from).

Shifting your ROA is hard, as is all change. But as a wise person once told me "If you want to change something in your relationship with other people, the only thing you can actually change is your own behavior." As Hugh McLeod put it in his book "Ignore Everybody" people hate and resist change because when someone changes it shifts the balance of power.

In a perfect world your Return on Aggravation would be zero. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. But the goal is to reduce your ROA to the lowest number possible. 

What are some of the ways you could do this?

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