Raising the bar
Tim Manners does a great summary of Gamal Aziz's work at MGM: reveries magazine: Working Backward.
My takeaway is a bit different. I don't think he's succeeding because of his tactics (the fact that big money is flowing into Vegas and he's building venues that attract people with big money is a very happy coincidence--$400 haircuts won't be the answer forever), but I do believe that the idea of working backwards is essential if you want to maximize growth.
In a nutshell, regardless of how well a product or service is performing, Aziz starts with the potential that product has (when it hits 11 on the dial, or is completely sold out), then he subtracts what it's doing and records the rest as a loss.
That means that every book that doesn't sell at least as well as the DaVinci Code is at some level, a failure.
For the masochists in the audience, this is a great way to set standards, no?
The reason this is interesting: not because it gives you yet another way to feel badly about your performance. Nope. Because it forces you to look at the capacity of your systems instead of focusing on their current performance. Airlines do this every day, of course, but I'm not sure most marketers do.