The Tension Between Striving for Excellence and Executing on Good Enough

Many companies proudly say how they strive for excellence in everything they do. It’s a high and worthy goal, so long as it doesn’t leave companies paralyzed without a product, service, or foot in the marketplace. On the other side of the spectrum is the “good enough” crowd. Mostly comprised of technology companies, they look for the Minimum Viable Product and launch with a product or service that is good enough to attract paying customers, but often rife with bugs and glitches that yield multiple updates and fixes.

The Tension Between Striving for Excellence and Executing on Good Enough

As with all things, operating in any extreme on the spectrum is dangerous. Holding tightly to one or the other often leads to disaster for companies.

Excellence does not equal perfection

The quest for excellence goes too far when it confuses quality for perfection. We’ve all heard the saying that perfect doesn’t exist, yet many will constantly tweak, revise, polish, scrap, rebuild, and torment themselves and their companies in the pursuit of perfection. In the meantime companies with lesser products are hitting the market and killing it.

Good enough does not equal sloppy

On the opposite side of the spectrum are those who don’t stop to think, test, or research before storming into the marketplace in search of customers. The sloppy approach is often fueled by greed and fails to deliver any value.

Finding balance

Balance is not a static state of being nor is it a state where each opposing idea is held equally. Balance is a tension fluctuating between each opposing point of view. Sometimes it is important to lean more toward excellence, especially if people’s lives are at stake as is often the case with medical, engineering, and other fields. In these situations mitigating risk means choosing how many lives are worth an error in design or execution, which quite frankly is zero.

For products and services that don’t deal in life or death situations, good enough is a way to get a new product or service out and earning revenue quickly. You start by striving for excellence but at some point you have to apply what I like to call the “Screw It Principle.” That’s when you say, “screw it,” run with it and see what happens. This is usually the way of the technology industry, which is known for quickly iterating, testing, adjusting, and getting a minimum viable product to market. From there they use customer feedback to prioritize feature development and bug fixes instead of guessing at what is most important to the customer.

For most companies the best option is to walk the line somewhere in the middle, finding balance between excellence and good enough, between creating quality products and services and having something to sell.

Shennandoah Goodson

Shennandoah is the founder of 525 Principle. She regularly speaks and contributes articles on a variety of topics to outlets such as SXSW Interactive, Society for Marketing Professional Services, Commercial Real Estate Women, and numerous others.

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