Perfection and Myopia – Unlikely Bedfellows

I am a huge advocate that if you do something do it properly. However, doing something with the ambition of perfection can adversely result in something not being done properly.

Having come from a digital background, applications are delivered in line with Pareto’s 80:20 rule, recognising that we may not know what is perfect for the end-user – so we let them tell us. Imagine if Apple released a perfect OS, one that mitigates every bug or evolution now and in the future – it would never get released. Now working in engineering I see first cut solutions built to a 99.9% level of perfection, this can take years and is often out of date the moment it can even be considered for the marketplace. Now there is one thing having an app that doesn’t format correctly on one handset vs. an aeroplane carrying 100 people and their lives across an ocean at 20,000 feet. However, when your first cut is a prototype – a prototype is to test, to learn – so why push for perfection at that stage.

Having worked in both environments I have seen products go to market that have not been given the investment to even make a meaningful test or start point through to a product not even reaching the market due to a myopic drive for perfection.

Myopia, as the word suggests, is often unseen, and why diversity in teams is so important (see my recent post on Choosing your Tribe). When working in technology this can be particularly prevalent when the technology becomes the driver, the focus. This can lead to great technology with no use, where perfectionism in the technology becomes the over-riding driver which, in itself, is not sufficient for commercialisation and only renders itself as a piece of engineering art that gives pride to its makers and headaches to potential customers who can’t use it or shoe-horn into their systems.

Let’s attain for the right solution, not the perfection of technology without the end-user at the forefront of our minds.

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