The phrase “good enough” was brought into prominence in the writings of the paediatric psychiatrist DW Winnicott.
Winnicott emphasised that a mother need only be “good enough”. The mother does not need to be perfect. If a “good enough” approach is good enough for something s precious as a baby, it is good enough for a business.
When I encounter resistance to this phrase (which is surprisingly often) it is usually, I feel, because people misunderstand it. It’s almost as if they think it means “not good enough”, not acceptable, not as good as it could be, not as good as I could do it.
Note that the phrase “good enough” contains the word “good”. It doesn’t contain the word “crap”.
In some professions or situations, “good enough” has to be pretty close to perfection. For example, a good enough operation by a brain surgeon is going to have to be damn good in order to minimise the risk of disaster.
But in, say, marketing? The idea of a perfect marketing campaign is ridiculous. I’m very happy with the graphic design Paul Holden did for me and the web development done by Ollie Francis’s business, Deckchair (both of which you can see on this website). They’re good. Good enough for my needs. Anything more would have been prohibitively expensive to no real benefit to my business.
If a service provider aims to deliver a service to their client, or a manufacturer a product, they need to be clear with the client what the service or product will comprise. This is the first problem because not all businesses do this, or do it well enough. Therefore, there is a degree of guesswork about the level of the client’s expectations. But if you know what you’re contracted to deliver, and you deliver it, that is good enough.
If you choose to overdeliver, that’s fine, but be clear you’re doing it for your benefit (so the client will think better of you) not for the client’s benefit. This is an entirely appropriate approach under some circumstances, but it isn’t anything to do with delivering a good enough service.
by Jeremy Marchant . © 2014 Jeremy Marchant Limited . uploaded 20 april 2016 . image: Free images
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