Perfect or Just Good

I hear a great quote the other day. I think it cam from the guys who manage the Subversion project.

“Perfect is the enemy of Good”

It reminds me of the analog…

“Good execution is more important than a good plan”

I can’t tell you how many times I have been in groups that have argued endlessly about the very best course of action, only to have disagreement and division when it came time to execute.

I have seen great success come from mediocre plans that were well executed. Where teams were together and functioning towards a well articulated vision with clear goals.

Focus on vision
Everyone on a team must know what the overarching goal is. That way they can make the right decisions even without direction. Everyone must be more committed to the end goal than the supremacy of their idea.

Iterate
People will give a plan more leeway when they know there will be an opportunity to evaluate, re-factor and iterate. Many organizations say they are committed to this, but get distracted quickly and never get back to it. The price of this is that people start to lose site of the end goal to protect their ideas.

Take small definable chunks
One of the reasons that iteration tends to fail is that the project was taken on as too big of a chunk. When this happens, the volume of tasks becomes a distraction in itself and the next steps get lost. Oversized projects have less clearly defined goals, fewer victories and greater idea lock in. It also tends to leave the group with not much to show at any arbitrary phase, and you find yourself scrambling to “prove your worth” when people want to see where all of the money is going.

Communicate the priorities
It is important that priorities are communicated honestly. Is this project about proving the best service, or is it about saving money. Rarely can you do both, and it is important for you to be honest about what that means to your team and your client, so that there are not unreasonable demands from either end. The importance of expectation management cannot be underestimated.

Focus on team
The team is more important than any individual. I have has seen countless projects destroyed by the superstar. When you have a superstar that is not on board with the vision they can end up being just as effective at being poisonous. Either get them on board or get them gone.

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One Response to Perfect or Just Good

  1. […] Premature Optimization There is an interesting piece over at bigmedium.com about the risks of premature optimization, which I think dovetails with what I was saying earlier about perfection being the enemy of good. […]

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