Ready, fire, aim ....
Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, (never fires) ....
Which category do you fall into? I ask this question, because I received some wonderful feedback on last week’s column from reader Paige Rolfe. Paige is a brand strategist, and my column on Why Entrepreneurs Must Fight Mediocrity struck a chord with her, because she tweeted this to me:
@CoachBru & while you're at it, pls tell the coaching industry to stop preaching "done is better than perfect." Encourages bad performance.
I couldn’t agree more, and other readers have echoed similar sentiments. There seem to be two common approaches to business: the ready-fire-aim approach and the ready-aim-aim-aim (never fire) variety. Precious and few are the entrepreneurs who follow the ready-aim-fire protocol.
While Paige was referencing the coaching profession, I assure you this epidemic is not limited to business coaching. I’ve seen it with coaching clients and in organizations I consult with.
People rush things to market that aren’t ready and quality suffers, the customer experience suffers and then their brand reputation suffers. Sadly, this is the most avoidable problem you’ll ever have. There’s an expression I like to use to describe this phenomenon: “Casualness causes casualties”.
Rolfe shared an example she often uses when helping her clients with their brand image: “If your loved one needed surgery, do you want a surgeon who believes done is better than perfect?”
Of course, the answer to her question is no, and most likely your job isn’t brain surgery, but rushing something to market can still have life or death consequences. In August of 2000, Bridgestone recalled 6.5 million SUV tires that were reported as having the tread peeling off the casing and causing accidents. The company’s stock lost half its value in the following weeks. A cautionary tale for all of us about the perils of rushing something to the market that just isn’t up to standard.
The quality of your product or service may not literally have life or death consequences. Figuratively speaking though, if you believe done is better than perfect, you’re killing your brand with every sale. Everything you do sends a signal about who you are, what you do and how well you actually do it.
Rolfe’s brand strategy consulting revolves around a concept she shares with clients -- and we’d all be wise to heed her advice: “If you don’t care about your own quality, then I know you won’t care about me as a customer.” Rolfe’s approach with her clients mirrors what she expects as a client stating, “I’m tailor made and want to be treated that way."
I believe every client expects tailored treatment, whether they realize it or not. Rolfe’s is a great analogy, because the attention to detail, fit and level of service you receive from a tailor versus buying a cheap suit off the rack is night and day. In a crowded, commoditized market, when you won’t put the time in to create a tailored solution to the client’s specific problem, done becomes the enemy of perfect -- because done is often code for poorly done. Don’t be your industry’s version of a cheap off-the-rack suit.
On the flip side, there are others who suffer from paralysis by analysis. In other words perfect actually is the enemy of done, because they are always getting ready to get ready and never actually deliver the goods.
Victor (name changed), a former client of mine, was guilty of this. He made a habit of ready-aim-aim-aim and never fired. He wanted to write a book about his career, but he spent all of his time studying the craft of writing by reading books and didn’t actually dedicate himself to actually practicing the craft and putting the pen to paper so to speak.
Perfect is the only the enemy of done if you’re legitimately a perfectionist. Don’t strive for done, strive for perfect, because when we strive for perfect, we usually will land upon excellence. Recognize that there is a never a perfect time but there is an excellent time and, like the examples I gave, there is also a bad time. We are never perfectly prepared -- but we can be excellently prepared.
Invest the extra time in getting it right versus just getting it done. Your client's success is then a reflection of your commitment to excellence.
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