Perfectly Good Enough
September 27, 2017 by FlexPro
Those of you who are detail oriented like I am can probably relate to sometimes getting caught up in making things “just so”. I tinker, tweak and rework, often getting caught up in minutiae and losing sight of the bigger picture. The risk of wanting to be perfect can sometimes be counterproductive when you start sweating the details instead of making progress.
Recently our senior leadership team at FlexPro began working with a coach to help us get better at running FlexPro. This is where I first heard the statement, “perfection is the enemy of done”, and it really hit home for me. I consider myself as having a fairly “big plate”, meaning I have a high capacity for work and most days I get a lot done. When I feel stuck on getting things done, I’ve realized that it’s often because I am trying to get something just perfect and I’m not happy with good enough. While perfect may be appropriate and actually imperative for some industries, like surgeons (I’d like to think their perfection level is a bit more relevant), in the business world, being fast with the ability to take risks and change direction is key. Moving forward imperfectly is better than being paralyzed by the fear of not getting it perfect.
A few years back Rose wrote about “analysis paralysis” and the idea that a methodical quest for perfection is a sure fire way to slow down the process and cause friction amongst the team. The reality is that most things we do will need some kind of revision in the end. Whether it’s a new strategy or a new product or service, there’s a good chance there will need to be “iterative prototyping” to make a better version or a better product. The key to not getting bogged down is to allow the day to day process to continue to unfold and the timeline to stay in focus. You’ve built contingencies into your timeline to account for the unexpected, so don’t expect everything will be perfect. The actual final result is seldom what was envisioned at the onset and the progression of the project shouldn’t become a stagnant boondoggle of blown deadlines in pursuit of perfection!
The reality is, there will always be a “better mousetrap”! What’s great today will be outdated and replaced with something better tomorrow. The iPhone 8 was just released and the talk is already about the iPhone 10. Anyone remember the original iPhone? It was so cutting edge at the time and now it’s archaic. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. And if Apple was striving for perfect, they’d still be at the drawing board for that original version that started it all. Rose said it so well previously in regards to our launch of FlexPro:
We could have continued to tinker, rework, rethink and obsess over the idea to launch FlexPro, and being the perfectionists we both are we probably took longer than we should have, but in the end we knew what we had developed was good. We knew no matter how much more time we spent on the development of the business plan and everything else involved, at some point we were going to begin going in circles and not forward. And isn’t moving forward what it’s all about?” So here we are nine years later continuing to build a better mousetrap. Will it ever be perfect? Nope, it won’t, but we think it’s pretty darn good!
As Project Management leaders, we are hired to get things done! Don’t let your need for absolute perfection get in the way of getting your job done.
-Lynn Faughey, FlexPro COO