Perils of Passion for Perfection

Perils of Passion for Perfection
Perfection is a pursuit of excellence with many rewards. However, even the most perfect of things have a defect and nothing measures defects better than the Six Sigma method invented by Motorola. In layman’s terms anything that has a perfection level of 99.99966 has achieved the highest possible. This means that 0.00034 is acceptable and therefore, 100.00% is an impossibility.

The quest to reach this goal, which is still not 100%, is not without its perils and in this article, I discuss my thoughts on why having a passion for perfection has its pitfalls.

Frustration in Team

You may be a perfectionist by nature, but your colleagues or sub-ordinates may not be as perfection oriented as you. That doesn’t mean that they are not conscious for the need to be perfect, but at times these are relative to each one’s perception of perfection. A sense of frustration sets in when they do not come up to your level of perfection and this further deteriorates their quality of work.

Respect that each one has a different acceptance of perfection and do not try to push the team into desperation. It does not mean that individually you cannot try to do your part to the level of your acceptance but try to work with a statistical average of what is perceived by your team as being perfect.

Lack of Appreciation

In the pursuit of the final 1% of perfection, you may be missing out the 99% that has already been achieved. The focus on the 1% deprives your team from the appreciation they deserve for their effort in achieving the 99%. The team has worked hard and is now made to appear incompetent for the balance 1%.

Encourage the team as they progress up the perfection curve. Every step closer to your level of perfection needs to be applauded. This will work as an incentive to reach the higher level. Despite their sincere efforts, if they cannot deliver to the ‘T’, don’t take it out on them. Appreciate their efforts and let them feel good of what they achieved instead of making them feel lousy of what they missed.

Incomplete Projects

Scores of projects lie incomplete because they did not meet the level of perfection desired. What was good for your customers may not have been good in your eyes and thus a completed project gathers dust to die unknown. It is true that any project must meet stated requirements but trying to over-deliver or exceed expectations to satisfy your rigid notion of perfection is sure sign of foolhardiness.

Allow projects to complete once requirements and customer expectations are met. Let the customer decide the acceptable even if you know that you can do better. Do ‘better’ in the next project but let the current project reach its final milestone. Do not let your pursuit for perfection bury the project forever.

Missing the Market

The worst impact of a reckless pursuit of perfection is when you take time to reach your level of perfection and launch after the competition has captured the market. There is no debate that a ‘good product’ will beat a ‘poor product’, even if it arrives later. However, a ‘good product’ that has already captured the market is hard to dislodge when an ‘excellent product’ arrives late.

Do not wait for your idea or product to ripen to perfection. Go to the market with an acceptable product and then work to make it better. Don’t miss the market.

I would like to know if you agree or disagree or have additional thoughts on the perils of passion for perfection.