Is striving for perfection slowing you down unnecessarily?

Have you ever planned the perfect beach holiday but it wasn’t as good as expected because it rained? You see for most of us perfection is basically impossible to achieve. Striving for quality is conceivable, but perfection isn’t due to capability, the time it takes to perform the task cost effectively or outside factors.

This is no different for businesses. To be more competitive in the 1980’s many companies committed to ship every customer order on time and in full. Their supply chains weren’t evolved enough to support 100% complete so as a workaround they increased inventory levels to the extent that some companies either almost became bankrupt or went out of business altogether. What they found was shipping 95%+ of orders on time and in full required lower levels of inventory which was more cost effective and acceptable by the market. Interestingly as we fast forward to today, shipment of 100% of orders on time and in full is now expected as the norm due to greater sophistication and economies of scale due to e-commerce and streamlined supply chains.

In your situation how often is striving to be perfect relevant? Maybe it is either most or even all of the time. I recently heard Matt Church from the Thought Leaders Business School (TLBS) express a view I’d like to share because I think there’s something in it for all of us. It was in relation to the proven TLBS curriculum which is simply world class. Matt founded the TLBS and either built or oversaw the building of the curriculum. What Matt said was something along the lines about sometimes having to determine whether specific components of the curriculum were serving each individual student and if not then pay them “appropriate disrespect.” In other words, don’t get too caught up in the recommended outline and adapt to what works best for each individual situation.

There’s a distinction between appropriate disrespect and inappropriate disrespect. For instance, a football player might be able to ask the umpire a clarification question about a decision, whereas the player can’t blatantly remonstrate towards the umpire.

Three questions to ponder on how you might be able to apply this to your work:

  • Is there too much focus on process instead of the critical path activities required to achieve outcomes?
  • Are teams waiting for direction instead of using initiative to suggest a path forward or take action?
  • Do you attend other people’s meetings at the expense to actioning your own high impact important work?

To make meaningful progress, maybe you need to consider where you can apply appropriate disrespect. Gerry Roberts author of The Millionaire Mindset and President of Black Card Books says to writers to “get it down & get it done.”

Don’t let perfection slow you down unnecessarily and adjust your rhythm to get the best outcome within the parameters of time, cost and quality.