Perfectionism is Fatal

During a discussion in the company someone bought imageup Perfectionism. I like this definition: Perfectionism may be the ultimate self-defeating behavior.

It is our job as a manager to create excellence in our team, but this might lead to perfectionism. Lets see the difference between the two.

Perfectionism Excellence
Can not make a mistake Must Do
  Must Make mistakes
  Must Fix the mistakes
  Must Grow

Perfectionism leads to ‘not doing’, we can’t make a mistake, so we can never finish the task. When ever we do something, we will make mistakes, so the task will always be 90% done, this leads to not doing anything apart from looking for excuses why the product is not perfect.

Excellence is about learning from our mistakes, but we have to do them in order to learn from them, it is from our mistakes that we grow. Excellence is the courage to make mistakes.
Good Enough is better than perfect.

Agile, lean and integrity management, help with the Doing and learning from mistakes. We have small iterations, we must deliver, we will make mistakes and learn how to fix them as fast as possible. We use unit tests to find our mistakes as fast as possible. This in the end leads to excellence.

To deal with perfectionism we have to go back to the basics and answer: What is the most valuable use of your time right now?

  1. What is your monthly goal? What are you giving up to reach this goal?
  2. What controllable actions do you need to do to reach that goal?
  3. Do you give your personal integrity word to do those actions?
  1. I think it’s important to strive for perfection, even though you may not achieve it. Too often do I see folks read just the headline on topics like this and interpret it to mean, “I don’t have to try anymore because we can always fix it later.”

    Mistakes will most certainly be made, and they most certainly have to be learned from and fixed… but it doesn’t mean you don’t have to try not to make them in the first place. The closure on the “learning from mistakes” portion of this is to not repeat mistakes you’ve learned from.

  2. Travis,
    What you are describing is what we call Excellence. This comes from learning, leaving your comfort zone and courage.
    Are you talking about sloppiness?
    If so you are right, there is no excuse for sloppiness, but the opposite of perfectionism is not sloppiness, both lead to unfinished, unprofessional products. It is striving for excellence that leads to doing, learning and becoming better.

    Sloppiness is easy to find but perfectionism is more subtle and so it is easier to fall into that pit.

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