Saturday, April 14, 2007

"Perfect" is the enemy of "good enough", and

I hope that you already know that. Perfectionism is a disease. It stops progress and drives us crazy. Perfect is unreachable.

But a while back I had a strange dream, and when I awoke I realized something else: "Good enough" is the enemy of "At all"!

Now I'm not suggesting that quality doesn't matter -- sometimes "good enough" or even "nearly perfect" is very important (brain surgery comes to mind). But more often, "good enough" isn't actually necessary and gets in our way. "Good enough" stops us from ever getting started in the first place.

Forget about your lack of talent, skills, knowledge, time, resources, or whatever else you need to be "good enough". Start an inane blog, take bad photographs, upload boring videos to YouTube, write bad software, create useless products, play bad music, and make ugly art. Forget "good enough", and then simply indulge in the joy of creation.

What did I experience in my dream? Passive consumption is the boring old form of entertainment. Joyous creation is the future of entertainment!

And who knows, maybe after we break through the static friction of quality, we'll discover that some of our work really is good enough, or maybe even great. But remember, although quality is nice, it's not the point.

The self-styled curmudgeons will continue to complain about all this senseless creation, but don't mind them -- they are simply flinging feces through the bars of their monkey cages. They are annoying but irrelevant -- they are not the ones who create the future.

I like xkcd.


Michele said...

I must say you got a point here! Even though it's sometimes difficult to release something we don't feel is "perfect" or at least "good enough", but agile development helps overcoming this behaviour...

strategicpause said...

This is a very inspirational post to me. Sometimes the idea of being "good enough" takes up so much of our time that we forget to just go out and do what it was we're trying to be good enough for. Good enough to me is learning from your mistakes after you go out and just do it.

The Pageman said...

inspiring! being creative is hard enough in the first place! Why add obstacles for that to happen?

ThriveSmart said...

Totally true, but could be a little dangerous if misinterpreted, as well (in my opinion). People just have to start "doing" no matter how crappy.

On the other hand, the best people/companies iterate and improve faster than any others, to get to "good enough" and close to get to "perfect".

I'd love to hear more insight into your experience with GMail - did you start with something (internally, perhaps), that wasn't even good enough - but then you kept working hard to improve it? Or were your "not even good enough" experiences much earlier, with other products, or at school?

Unknown said...

I have a similar philosophy that I've been preaching for years (but oddly never blogged about it)... FAIL FASTER! The idea being that we all learn from failures (watch your kids learn and develop... all of it based on failing lots of times). So, instead of avoiding failure, get going and start failing... and LEARNING.

Muriel OK said...

I'm an artist/ crafts person. I just completed a project. It isn't even anything that is really art it is something I made to wear to one party. I was frustrated because I couldn't get it to come out perfect. I finished it and now I am stepping away. Once a boss called me slipshod. And that voice still sticks with me. I rarely look at others work as critically as I do mine. Will I ever forget the job was not perfect? No but it won't be important.