To have perfect or imperfect action that is the question! You might be thinking, wow that is pretty heavy or profound. And yes, I am drawing a parallel with Shakespeare's famous literary line “to be or not to be that is the question”. The “to be or not to be…” line is all about whether it is better to live or die for the character in the play. However the subject matter of interest is “Action' instead of Life. Action? Yes, action! Sometimes we do not do ourself any favours by taking too much action, in the sense that we wait until something is absolutely perfect before stopping and saying “it is done”.
Action is defined as "The fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.” (Ref: Oxford Dictionary )
Perfect is defined as "Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.” (Ref: Oxford Dictionary )
Imperfect is defined as "Not perfect; faulty or incomplete.: (Ref: Oxford Dictionary )
In other words, action is doing something (for example, gardening, painting, washing the car, writing a report, developing an ebook, designing a course, writing an email, compiling a presentation and so on) to achieve a goal. When something is perfect, it is considered to have every single aspect to a degree where there is no room for further improvement; hence “as good as it is possible to be”. So therefore, if something is imperfect, in the context of action it may not be as good as it is possible to be.
Working to strive for perfection and working to be the best that we can be should always be our intent. However, we need to also be mindful of the reality and impact this can have. For instance, products need to be the best that they can be because if the are imperfect and have a fault, then the potential for damage, injury or death can not be ignored. What I mean by this is that products and equipment which impact human life need to be perfect.
Things which are expected to be perfect are:
- motor vehicles
- safety systems
- medical and operating equipment
- pharmaceutical drugs and so on...
The reality of always striving for perfect action can mean having results in a range of different outcomes:
- we may never deliver because we are always tweaking what we do
- if we do end up releasing something, we may not reap the rewards of all that extra effort
- deliver something which is off target and no one wants because we were too inner focused on getting it right instead of getting it relevant
- overshoot our time constraints which can have more severe consequences than delivering on time an imperfect result
- overshoot our budget and not deliver any added value with this perfect result
- deliver on time, on spec and on budget ( a rare occurance)
To some extent, you could say the IT industry has an imperfect approach. Mobile phone companies and software companies release their new products models all the time. They have impressive presentations which talk to all of the features and benefits of the new model release, knowing their products are mostly likely imperfect at the time of release. Why do I say this. It is because what ends up happening quite often is:
- the new product model is released ( e.g. Model 1A)
- consumer feedback start to trickle in to validate the vulnerability most likely already known,
- shortly after a software update comes out. ( e.g.. Model 1A.01 )
- hotfixes and patches trickle out after a software update (Model 1A.01) indicating that even the update was imperfect.
The result could be something like this:
Model 1A → Model 1A.01 → Model 1A.01.1 → Model 1A.01.2 → Model 1A.01.2.1
You might be thinking…Why do this? Why release or say something is done when it is not perfect? Because sometimes perfection does not always mean success or progress. Or, conversely, something which is imperfect (not because it is faulty or has low quality) can still meet the brief or objectives and will allow you to progress. Why? Because in most cases the imperfect actions have resulted in an outcome which is “almost there” and meets the expectations of target audience. The IT sector does this well and they leverage tools and methodologies like AGILE to do this time and time again.There is a great quote from Tony Robbins which sums all of this up” winners take imperfect action while losers are still perfecting the plan"
I am a firm believer that you need to do your best and deliver the best you can with what you have to work with. This typically means, resources, budgets, targets and time. It is the time factor that usually undoes most people. That is, they don’t have a plan on how to get to the outcome and therefore procrastinate, loose focus, become easily distracted and find reasons to constantly tune what they are working on because there are no hard targets which includes timeframe.
To overcome this, it is always good practise to setup some realistic and achievable targets and this includes time. This way, you can hold yourself accountable to progressing and achieving certain milestones. You will find by doing this, you will become focused and more efficient in what you do. It is far better to release your report or presentation ( i.e. the results of your action) which is imperfect because of trivial matters like the margins are not quite right or there is some more data which could be analysed and included but does not really change the outcome, than not to release it at all.
I am working on a new business project outside of ANBA Solutions. Initially when I started work on this, I was a little dismayed at the mechanisms of this space I am going to be entering. I soon realised and concluded that in order for me to get this up and running, I need to have an action plan. This action plan may not be perfect and is mostly likely not. However, the point here is that I am taking action and will be doing the best I can with what I have in order to launch this business project over the next 2 months. The key element for me to achieve this result is to spend 1 to 2 hours a day, three times a week to work through my success plan.
The Wrap Up
If need some help with bouncing your ideas around or to explore strategies so that you can find more effective way to win, contact me at ANBA Solutions.
This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 7