Avoid the “Perfect” Trap

by | Feb 22, 2022 | The Power Of Differentiation | 0 comments

I can proudly say the leaders I work with are genuinely good, sincere people. Every day, I see them being pulled left and right while trying to achieve results and please bosses, customers, and employees. Expectations are high, resources are limited, and time is tight.  

Today, enterprises are dealing with delayed product launches, and quality control issues. Many cannot meet demand. It’s impossible to achieve perfection through all of that. 


Perfect drives paralysis

I met with a manufacturing CEO who shared an analysis of his brand, “Our product has decent features, but we could be far better. We have more than our share of issues and have a long way to go. It’s so frustrating.”

His message was clear. The CEO of this strong brand was focused on his company’s imperfections. I call it the “perfect trap.” It produces paralysis as you and your team wait for the day when things are just right. That day seldom, if ever, comes. In my younger years, I was part of a rock band (we sold well under one million records). I learned in the world of music that perfection is not highly valued. In fact, imperfection is often embraced.

There are countless hit songs that were born accidentally when a performer placed their fingers in the “wrong” spot on the guitar or keyboard. That “mistake” was embraced and turned into something magical. (Here’s a music performance “secret.” If a musician makes a mistake in a song during a concert, they will often repeat that mistake so that common folks like us don’t think it was a flub-up. True, but don’t tell anyone.).

Imperfect situations happen in business, but most companies abhor them, slowing progress to a glacial pace, waiting for things to be perfect. Think about it; if you wait until everything is just right, by the time you can launch or re-launch your brand or product, almost everything has changed—the economy, the competition, even the world itself. Your opportunity for success will be diminished.

Your brand or product does not need to be perfect or the best for it to succeed. It needs to be differentiated, to represent something of unique value (and it must work, of course). Great brands can be both powerful and imperfect.

There are countless hit songs that were born accidentally when a performer placed their fingers in the “wrong” spot on the guitar or keyboard. 


Focus on moving forward 

As leaders, we can’t let our teams off the hook, waiting for perfect; instead, inspire them to figure out how best to move forward. By focusing on progress and not perfection, we will stimulate action. In the event we fall short, it’s time to learn, recalibrate and get moving again. 

We all accept and expect the “fixes” we receive on our iPhones. Many of those updates represent flaws that needed to be remedied, yet we’re good with those. Why can’t it be the same with your brand? I’m not suggesting that inferior, error-filled products be launched—but if we can launch with the knowledge that there will always be improvements down the road, it’s worth the consideration. 

The same goes for being short on resources. Why not consider dramatically different approaches or partnerships? Why not revisit a concept you considered a year ago? We work with a customer who could not staff a department and asked us to be their partner instead, and it worked out brilliantly.

 Customers accept and expect technology updates and fixes for their vehicles, just like they do for their smartphones.

When is the time to search for your differentiation?  

Today. Worst-case scenario is your journey uncovers issues you need to immediately address. More likely, you’ll findflaws you’ve already recognized, plus some inspiring examples where you stand apart from the competition.  

Freeing yourself from the “perfect” trap unlocks your potential for extraordinary thinking. It’s not about perfect; it’s about progress. 


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