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Sunday, 22 May 2011

Trying to be Perfect? Don't Bother! Be Excellent Instead!

“The pursuit of perfection does not lead to success”.  It was said to me this week, followed by “There’s a blog subject for you!” and so it is.  (Thank you Jacqui)

It brought back to mind a consultancy assignment I had some time ago in which I was ostensibly advising two very nice, very clever your women on the marketing of some software that they had developed for small hotels – software that would    co-ordinate all the various functions and which designed a complete system.

The assignment was a total failure, not, heaven forfend, because of bad advice on my part but rather that the advice was never implemented.

Why?  Because my two clients could never decide when the software was ready to be marketed.  It was constantly being tuned, tweaked, adjusted, altered, modified and never were customers consulted to see what  they wanted and needed.

After about six months I withdrew gently from the assignment, having constantly suggested, without success, that they issue a Beta Version, possibly with some faults, and then update to Version 1 when customers opinions had been gathered in and implemented.

Just look at Apple and how they market new products.  First f all there is a constant and subtle dropping of hints and leaks about the new product followed by the announcement of a date for the launch all resulting in hordes of slavering early adopters battling to be the first to have one.  Sure, there will be and are problems but that only leads to the next upgraded version.

The hotel software never went on sale.

So many management mantras come to mind; do the right thing rather than do things right, or pursue excellence rather than perfection, and so on.

It is a truism to say that perfection cannot be achieved so why try to achieve it?  The constant pursuit of excellence in everything that we do in business should be a given; to pursue perfection can be a dead hand on what we do and leads always to frustration.

Yes, we do need people in the team who are completer/finishers, who are meticulous in all they do, who need to do things right and who make a contribution to the organisation.  They do not, however, take the business forward; only help to ensure that it doesn’t slip backwards.

I like one of the verses in Gerry Rafferty’s song:

“You need direction, yeah you need a name
When you’re standing in the crossroads every highway looks the same
After a while you can recognize the signs
So if you get it wrong you’ll get it right next time”

That’s a perfect view of the pursuit of excellence.

For more information visit www.vistage.co.uk and www.maa-uk.co.uk
To contact us, email to ivan.goldberg@vistage.co.uk
Twitter: @ivanjgoldberg

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