Thursday, January 26, 2006

Perfection - Enemy of the Good

So - no sooner linked than picked upon, Lorne. I wouldn't be quite so charitable toward Steve Jobs' carrot juice tantrum. One person's quest for perfection is another person's nit-picking idiosyncrasy. Wouldn't orange juice have been OK? The behavior described veers perilously close to that of prima donna performers who must have all the brown M&M's removed from the bowl in the green room, and other such nonsense.

There are cases for perfection, and Jobs has certainly harnessed it to great advantage in molding Apple's design aesthetic. There's also no question that it's better to delay product launches to get them right than risk negative customer experiences by launching too early.

On the other hand, and particularly in fast-moving industries and situations, the quest for perfection can doom you with delay. Wait to launch your product until it is absolutely perfect, and you may find a competitor has already seized the advantage and market share with an inferior - but good enough - product. Try to draft the perfect contract and your customers will get frustrated and go elsewhere. And in the world of corp dev, try to negotiate the perfect deal and you won't get it done. The ideal of perfection must be balanced against considerations of time, cost and impact on other elements of the project. Getting it "as right as possible" within these contraints is key.

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