Avoid Perfection

Avoid Perfection!

You are only setting yourself up for defeat. Who am I to tell you this? Well, I am an ex-perfectionist. I used to strive for perfection in most things. Now, I have given up on perfection. It’s probably the only model that you can never attain! When is something perfect? There is always room for improvements. It can always be better, faster, safer, cheaper, etc.

Who decides when it is perfect? By the way, most customers don’t appreciate it , when your goal is perfection. They simply don’t believe you and think that your price will be overrated. Also managing your expectations incorrectly can result in clients’ frustration or even in loosing them. Why? Everyone might have different ideas about perfection. Or it might be unattainable. Maybe they are satisfied with the current level of quality and don’t want to wait for you to get it perfect. Is a 8/10 enough for them, why waste more money and time on making it a 10/10?

A simple example that I used to tell is this one: A customer asks me if I can build him a bicycle. And of course, we can. So they sign an order form and we start designing his bicycle. Being creative, I invent several extras, that make the bike even greater. For some, the customer agrees to pay more, for others not, but I’ll include them anyway. Customer Satifaction! Then the customers starts to change his mind and instead of a bicycle he wants a motorcycle. And my team adds several items to this as well. By the time we deliver the project, we have build a car, in some cases even a spaceship 🙂 The customer is thrilled, because he can go anywhere and only paid for a advanced bicycle. I am supersatisfied with the result, because we have a very satisfied customer and an unseen result. People start to talk about it and we attract more customers. Yet, something is wrong. We over-delivered and did not get enough funds in return. On top of that, the customer would have settled and be almost equally satisfied with his motorcycle. Finally, new customers also want a spaceship for the same price and extra wishes and improvements. How are we going to achieve this?

Do you recognize this situation?

So, I stopped at striving for perfection. I have given up on the perfection model. If customers ask me for an 8/10 and are paying me for it, I’ll probably still deliver a 9/10, but no way I’d be going for that 10/10! By the way, do you realize how much effort it takes to go from a 9/10 to a perfect 10? Right! Not worth it! Invest that time in other stuff. Create more or take some time off with your friends and family 🙂

Have a perfect day,

Bert Verdonck
Lifehacker & Life Coach

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4 Responses to Avoid Perfection

  1. Gary Marlowe says:

    Bert – Ultimately, perfection, like so many things, is subjective. In most cases referring to anything as being ‘perfect’ is open to interpretation and has to be tested against something. Usually this would be someone’s individual parameters for such perfection.

    If perfection is defined as ‘zero defects’ you first have to define what a defect is. And then you start realising that defects are relative to the product or service being manufactured or delivered.

    A defect might be a component that causes a product not to work properly, but it could also be defined as a scratch on that same product. In that case, the product may still function perfectly, but it is now imperfect.

    The point here is everything about perfection has to relate to something measurable and which can be clearly assessed. A product has specifications. If they are all attained, then that product can justifiably be considered 100% perfect (at least it is in the minds of those who made it)

    Someone else, however, a reviewer or customer, for example, might look at that same product with a different set of criteria. How does it compare with other products on the market or even their own expectations of how that product should perform or the features it should possess? If they are disappointed, if it falls short, then to them, it’s not perfect.

    Perfection then is in the eyes of the beholder and depends completely on the criteria by which it is being judged.

    The point you make is not about avoiding perfection, but avoiding over-delivery. Maybe even excess over-delivery.

  2. bertverdonck says:

    Gary,

    thanks for your wonderful reply.

    I agree with you on the ‘zero defects’ and I also acknowledge that sometimes it is hard to reach that point. Perfection is indeed subjective most of the time.

    My perception is that too many companies are bringing their products to the shelves too early. They blow up their balloon just enough to float and increase the air in it, in different steps, until it becomes a beautiful balloon. Of course, some are driven by time-to-market, while others totally disagree and choose for making their product “perfect” first, before launching it. Even then they still want to improve continuously. Some companies never arrive at the market because they are always improving and don’t think its perfect yet before even launching it. Like Woody Allen said : 80% of success is showing up.

    Having said that, I clearly used to belong to that second group, sometimes even to the last group before and it took me quite some time to realize that.

    Now, I also agree that we all look at different ways to the same thing. Even something simple like a colour can create heavy discussions (e.g. What kind of blue do you think this is?). So, one of the toughest things to do is to agree on the specs and criteria. And what’s the difference between facts and interpretation? How do I make sure they see the same thing as I do? How do we agree on these?

    That’s why I link over-delivery used to be my answer to make sure they liked what we were doing. Unfortunately, most of the times it wasn’t appreciated so much…

    So, the question is what is perfection for you and how do you deal with it? Like I said, I now try to avoid it and it made me a happier man (although I still have perfectionist-moments :-))!

    Have a great weekend,
    Bert

  3. Gary Marlowe says:

    Bert

    In thinking about answering the question, I’m not so sure there is actually a perfect answer.

    One way of looking at it is admittedly a bit of a cliche and that’s “Perfection is a journey not a destination.”

    For me, it’s about striving for what I believe is the very best I can do within the constraints I’ve been given (the time available, the knowledge and tools I have at my disposal, coupled with my own judgement of the effort it is worth me putting in) Regardless of how much or how little of each you have, if you don’t aim high you won’t even get close to perfection.

    As someone once said, if you aim for great, you may not reach it, but you might achieve something very good. If you strive to be good and don’t reach it, then you’ll just be average.

    The actress Reese Witherspoon put it this way: “I don’t believe in perfection,” she said, “I don’t think there is such a thing. But the energy of wanting things to be great is a perfectionist energy.”

    I think that’s quite a neat way of looking at it. As is this: “It’s always better being imperfectly perfect rather than perfectly imperfect.”

    One thing’s for sure, the whole topic of perfection is a very interesting one. But then isn’t that perfectly obvious?

  4. I just wrote a blog about “The Perfect Person”, but I think it could be applied to most cases.

    I do believe that Perfection is subjective. Here is my paraphrased version on the word of the day:

    Perfection is not impossible. The deeper, more complex understanding of the word “perfect” is defined as the ability and will to refine.

    Cultivate yourself and you will find fewer conflicts.

    Desiree Q. Luong

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