The phrase “good enough” was brought into prominence in writings about psychology by the paediatric psychiatrist DW Winnicott. He was talking about the development of small babies and emphasising the role the mother (or the primary care giver in her absence) has in their development.
Of course, this is a big subject, much which is irrelevant to business development and transformation. But there is a key, relevant point.
Winnicott emphasised that the mother need only be “good enough”. The mother does not need to be perfect. Babies have developed over millennia by natural selection to be able to survive despite (in some cases) the activities of the parents.
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” is 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.
Perfection is actually a way the mind has of stopping us moving forward. “I can’t take the next step because I haven’t done this one perfectly yet”. Of course, one never will do it perfectly; one can always find a flaw, and that’s the point.
emotional intelligence at work had a client, a senior consultant in an NHS trust, whose tenacious attachment to writing perfect follow up letters to the parents of seriously ill children meant these parents waited months, completely unnecessarily, while he got the letters right. Imagine the cost, in parents’ anguish, that the consultant levied for the opportunity to write perfect follow up letters.
(There were issues around being right in this case; as in, “I am right to insist on doing a perfect job for these patients”.)
Many people in business, however, feel they have to deliver perfect service—and then beat themselves up when it’s pointed out that they aren’t doing this. I have to say that, in some cases, the opportunity to beat themselves up is the purpose of the whole exercise, however sad that is.
Some coaches, unfortunately, promote themselves as being able to help their clients become “awesome” or in some way exceptional. This strikes me as setting their client up to fail, and cannot be a good business idea either for the client—or the coach.
Of course, some business people just want to deliver the best possible service and it may seem harsh to say that that is misguided. The issue, though, is that delivering the best possible service (at any price) may be a good for the individual (it may make him/her feel they’re doing a great job), but it isn’t a good for the business. And, if they want their business to thrive, they need to focus on what is best for the business, not them.
> Being right
by Jeremy Marchant . © 2014 Jeremy Marchant Limited . uploaded 24 july 2014 . image: Free images