Businesses will always be tempted to strive for excellence and perfection, but at what cost?
Excellence and perfection are both worthy objectives, but in seeking such achievements, something else inevitably must make way. You can’t be excellent at everything. And what is excellence anyway? How would you define it?
Perhaps excellence is receiving zero complains. Is that even possible? Even if you gave away your products and services, you can guarantee there will still be complaints, so you will always tolerate a few as you know it is impossible to please everyone.
Perhaps it is zero defects. What would that do to your costs? To achieve zero defects may well price you out of the market. Customers may be willing to have a small number of defects for a lower price (as long as the most serious ones are remedied after the fact).
An alternative approach is fit for purpose. That is your solution won’t meet every circumstance, but will meet the needs for a specific market.
For example, sneakers may be very comfortable, but are not suitable for jogging or country hikes. In fact, they will perform poorly on these applications and will not last very long. Compromises have been made.
Similarly with finding the perfect solution. When the first manned space flights were being planned, it was quickly realised that ball point pens would not work in zero gravity. (Ever try writing upside down with a ball point?) So the Americans sought a solution for this problem, and developed a ballpoint that could be used to write upside down, and in zero gravity. Needless to say these pens were, initially anyway, quite expensive and had to be specially made, although they are now fairly widely available and with quite a low cost.
The Russians had a different approach. They used pencils! Fit for purpose, not mission critical.
While you may wish to achieve excellence or perfection in certain parts of your business, define what you mean by these terms, determine whether they are mission critical, and the impact on the business if this excellence can be achieved. Will this excellence be recognised by your customers, and more importantly, will they value it?
If perfection was the answer, we would still be waiting on Windows Version 1.0 and would never have heard of Bill Gates. I will leave you to comment below whether you think that would be a good or bad thing.
May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.
Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.
The Australian Small Business Blog