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One potential implication of this post is "Go out and hire obsessives!". This may well be good advice, and this sort of personality type is probably one whose chances of being hired are adversely impacted by prejudice even where their skills are objectively required. However, what about the role of metrics and technology? Surely it you monitor: abandoned calls, numbers of times people have to retrack their steps on the voice mail tree, number of customers whose speech patterns indicate anger when they eventually arrive at their human destination etc, you should be able to see quite quickly whether your soup is permanently awful or exactly when someone started peeing in it? The same would obviously apply to online forms and, although it is harder with written forms, there are probably still some metrics-based approaches that enable you to monitor when things are not going well - numbers of non-returned forms, numbers of empty boxes on forms, numbers of crossings out on forms, number of times customers ask staff for help in filling in forms etc. So in addition to having an obsessive form checker I would suggest: robust testing of forms with customers; ample scope for customer feedback; and some metrics to confirm that customers are not having problems with the form.

You are right, of course, that lonely obsessives can't be anything like the full answer, and all your suggestions are good ones.

The gap, though, it seems to me, is more about ownership than obsession. All the metrics in the world about the way a web page is used won't make a difference unless there is somebody who is passionate about wanting it to be the best possible web page. So yes, it might work better for them to be obsessive about watching people drink (or reject) the soup, rather than to obsessively drink soup all day - but it is the combination of ownership and commitment which is often the gap.

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