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BLOG“Done is Better than Perfect”

by Randall CraigFiled in: Make It Happen Tipsheet, Blog, Management, Thought Leadership, Time managementTagged as: , ,

Are you a perfectionist? The type of person who will spend an untold amount of time “optimizing”, rather than just getting on with it?

“Done is Better than Perfect”

Or maybe you work with one, and they are constantly making so-called improvements in your work.

Why do they do this?

  • They feel that their unique experience will improve the initiative’s chance of success. That their input will reduce risk.
  • They don’t exactly trust that you can get it over the finish line… and their input will make a difference.
  • They feel it’s their job: After all, you might report to them.

While there are situations where this is important, the fundamental approach of “let’s get it right before we get it out the door” is outdated, and runs the risk that others will beat you in your market.

Here’s why:

In the olden days, companies would spend thousands (or millions) on market research, to discover needs, test products, test marketing campaigns, then choose a test market to test the product in. The problem was that by the time the product hit the market, the market’s needs will likely have changed, and what was introduced would fail (or at least not have the same success).

An alternative approach was to release a minimum viable product — and MVP — into the market, collect feedback, and iterate. Each new version of the product would be better, collect better feedback, and then result in another iteration… all while collecting market share. Google (and many others) have mastered this agile process to product release: their products seem to be in perpetual beta. By the time the “traditional” product was released, the beta would have had an insurmountable lead.

Of course, there are exceptions to this: you wouldn’t want to fly in a beta airplane or have surgery with beta medical equipment. It’s a question of risk. But for the vast number of organizations — and the vast number of tasks, DONE is better than PERFECT.

This Week’s Action Plan:

What are you doing to encourage those on your team to get things out the door, rather than using oodles of time to get it perfect? A good approach is to ask whether the time cost of creating a particular deliverable is worth the delay in getting something out the door. Usually, it isn’t.

Marketing Insight: The biggest challenge is imbuing the ability to make this judgment amongst those on your team. If something isn’t perfect, is it because a person is sloppy? Or is it because they had the maturity to make the decision to get twice as much work “out the door”?

Management Insight: Staff who are sloppy will often rely on this argument to justify their errors and lack of quality. If you have staff who are consistently sloppy, and seem not able to learn, the solution is quite different: fire them.

Related post: Lead from Behind

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