Is your pursuit of perfection taking a toll in your relationships, health and business? Where do you draw the line between the pursuit of perfection and "good enough"? Let's explore how this beautiful concept applies to the field of IT Service and Support.
"Perfect is the enemy of good"
The Full Scoop
He could not be satisfied. Some years ago, an IT Service provider stretched themselves thin working to please the CEO of a large firm. His firm boasted of their dedication to perfection and excellence, yet; his employees were miserable and their work output subpar. Turnover was high and employee morale was low. Vendors never lasted very long. It seemed the harder he pushed, the worse things became. This CEO claimed he only wanted to be exceptional in his space, but in reality; he would never achieve it. A lack of trust and appreciation for the work output of others, drove him to be almost a tyrant in the eyes of those he worked with; working for his company was drudgery.
Sometimes in our pursuit of perfection we hurt those closest to us and never build up the dynamic and self-driven teams around us that will be needed to lead to the growth we desire. We lack Wabi-Sabi, no not Wasabi (just a pinch of that will do); Wabi-Sabi!
Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic, and ancient ideal that encourages one to embrace the unpredictable. We need to learn how to accept imperfections, pause and rejoice in the beauty found around us, and in the people we work with; each and everyday. It is not easy, I myself find that the more I want something the harder I will push to help "steer the ship" - and while I often can steer the ship for brief periods of time, the anxiety and stress that ensues can make the voyage rough and a lot less pleasant, for myself and those around me.
Epictetus once said, "Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens." Wonderful right, okay - so, who wants to partner with an IT Services and Support firm that embraces being imperfect? Are mistakes okay? Defects are now good?? We should just give up??? No!
The point isn't to be good at being bad, the point is that we strive to be our best and in the process accept that mistakes, learning, training, effort, growing; is a natural path that will lead us to be much better than who we are today. We learn from our mistakes, embrace our imperfections, rather than hide or avoid acknowledging when mistakes are present. A mentor once told me, "sometimes, people just want to hear - I'm sorry". With all the politics, games and finger pointing; authenticity and honestly can make an incredible difference in relationships between an IT Provider and their Client. Who wants to hire a yes-man company, ripe with Groupthink and dysfunctional decision-making; not I.
There are stories told in IT circles (sometimes referred to as "Atwood's Duck"), of a Project Manager at a software company that produced games; who always had to point out imperfections in the work output of his engineers and developers. His developers, who knew he would have to find something wrong, would plant intentional easy to find anomalies in their games. They knew if they created something, a distraction for him to easily find, a lot of their more creative ideas would make the cut during the final testing review. In one instance they put a duck, which was out of place in the game, behind another character - "this is great, but lose the duck", the PM said during the review; the developers won. Sad, that effort had to go into distracting management so that time would not be spent debating trivial, non-productive changes to a system. You know, ... you don't always have to find something wrong.
Avoid making employees work hard, just as a counter measure to an leaders impossible to please personality. Strive to develop a culture that embraces different approaches to solving problems, delegate with confidence, and watch with pride as your technology teams embrace their roles and own their successes and failures. We want to be surrounded by honest, open employees; who will acknowledge their faults and know that we have their backs. Running an IT Helpdesk and Project Management team is hard enough, let's accept that we have work to do - and get right to it, together, collectively working towards finding a better way to make our client's networks and systems run effectively.