This quote was beat into my head during my first job. The VP of my division preached this over and over again. This was a man I really respected. He was a driven, hard-nosed, and a big go-getter who led the Supply Chain division for a Fortune 500 company. He was tough, results-oriented, and demanded a lot from his team. The best take away from that experience was the quote that he would repeatedly say. He had a bunch of great quotes that he’d repeat. But this one really stuck with me. “Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress.” Let’s break down what this really means.
Many times, we look for ways to procrastinate without really procrastinating. We may think we are putting the finishing touches on a project, but really we are just postponing the inevitable. Ask yourself if the extra 20% is really worth it. If it is, then go for it. But most times I find that the core of the project is most important. That core may be the first 20% or it may be the first 80%. Whatever it is, figure out what the absolute essentials are, and stick with that. Then move on to the next thing.
Sometimes we get so caught up with making things look pretty, that it hurts our true progress. Now I’m all for presentation and optics, but if it dampens progress then there is a problem. The point of progress is to keep moving forward. And if we are tied up doing and redoing little meaningless work that doesn’t truly add value, then we are ruining our progress. Moving forward is the best strategy for any company. Execution of a task will give the team results. And results is what we want. We want results so we can analyze those results and assess what happened and how to get better from it.
We look for many excuses why something is late. Maybe you didn’t have enough time to finish the project. Or maybe you got caught up over the wrong details. Maybe you cared more about the optics of the project rather than the true core of the project. The meat and potatoes is what drives productivity. Not the small optic details. I realize this may sound careless to some people. But in a fast past environment, there is no time to perfect meaningless details. You need to get results and get them quickly. Then move on to the next task. That’s progress.
“Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress.” Keep moving forward no matter what. Don’t let small details keep you from progressing. This may be procrastination without realizing it’s procrastination. Stay away from the meaningless optics and stick to what really drives business. The progress.