I was in high school when Nadia Komenich scored the first perfect 10 at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal. As a young gymnast, her three gold medals and perfect score vaulted her to a place in Olympic, gymnastic, and sports history. Like most young high school athletes at the time, I was inspired by her performance and the obvious dedication to her sport. When she returned to the Moscow Olympics in 1980 to win two more Olympic Gold Medals, it was no surprise to anyone.
I think it’s only natural for results-driven professionals to strive for perfection. But I question whether or not that is a driver for project success.
I once worked with a young graphic designer who was driven to make every design perfect. Although I admired her desire to push herself and obtain what she considered perfection-it often made our projects late and over budget. A good project leader understands that there is a point when incremental gains don’t provide enough benefit to justify the associated cost.
Sometimes “good-enough” allows teams to get more work done because they not only understand when to start, but also when to stop.
However, don’t confuse the “good-enough” mindset for an acceptance of sloppy work management. It isn’t. Successfully managing project based work is more about spending time on the right things-and not wasting time on those with a marginal payback in value.
Let me share four traits that will help you determine when “good-enough” is really good enough:
1. Set Guidelines- Before a project begins, make sure everyone knows where the “good-enough” line is. Make sure that the line is clear enough to avoid misunderstanding.
2. Set Realistic Stakeholder Expectations- Make sure stakeholders see the value of how the “good-enough” mindset keeps projects on track, reduces costs, or enables more projects to get done.
3. Help the Team Avoid Fixating or Obsessing About Any Particular Task- Encourage the team to watch out for each other and keep everyone on track. A good mindset will allow team members to identify when a coworker is obsessed with something. Be open to team members who challenge you with “Is this good enough?” questions.
4. Never Sacrifice Quality- Remember, “good-enough” is not an excuse for sloppy work. Regardless of the project, it must meet the objectives, the specifications, and comply to all quality standards.
Ultimately, spending time working on the right things and not obsessing about the wrong things helps project teams get more done. The right project management software can help, but it’s really all about the mindset.
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