Perfection, like haste, can be the enemy of improvement

Most of us would accept that too much haste can hamper real improvement. Whilst a “quick and dirty” approach can be invaluable for creating stop-gap fixes, sooner or later, time needs to be given to create the right ideas for real improvement.

Perfection can also stifle real improvement in 2 ways. Firstly, the time taken to deliver improvement drains the enthusiasm and patience of those who want to see progress, sometimes even the perfectionist themselves. Secondly, the behaviour of the perfectionist often says to the others involved “only I know what needs to be done”, unintentionally stifling the innovation.

Three ideas to help get round this – firstly, ensure that the improvement team contains development and operational staff so that the ideal and the pragmatic are balanced; secondly, ensure the handover to Operations occurs when the major features have been delivered but when there are some elements to complete (but leave support in place to help the Operations team to finish off); thirdly, ensure the perfectionists understand that they are there to support improvement not to own it and that the full improvement will be built in stages not all at once.

In conclusion, build improvement in stages and let the achievement of real improvement be the motivation to continue.  May perfection be the end goal of improvement not the focus of every activity.

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