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The problem with perfection

By David Beesley

The problem with perfection

The pursuit of perfection in PR campaign planning could be holding your team back!

Here we get a few things off our chest that should hopefully motivate you to let go of the pursuit of flawless precision:

Many startups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are led by CEOs who possess perfectionist personalities.

However, this trait often needs to be tempered if these businesses are to thrive, expand, and reach new heights.

At first glance, you might think perfection is a desirable quality. After all, it sets us apart, pushes us to excel, and makes us stand out as something special, unique, and ultimately, successful. Right?

Not quite.

The issue with perfection is that it's a never-ending quest. It's a standard that's rarely met or maintained. It's often out of reach, and, perhaps most importantly, it's usually pretty pricey - both in time and money…

The perils of perfectionism 

Perfectionism kills creativity: 
Striving for perfection can smother creativity and actually hinder progress. Controlling and micromanaging tasks to be done in a specific way can silence the creative freedom of your team, which will stop them from wanting to voice their ideas or experiment with different approaches.

Today’s pace is faster than ever:
Timely action is paramount, and waiting for months to create a piece of content is often not possible. Content is needed in a matter of hours or days, not weeks or months. If content creation takes too long, you won't have enough to promote effectively.

Test and fail fast: 
To really and truly understand your audience and their wants, you need to try various tactics. You have to put things out into the world to receive valuable feedback, which allows you to refine and adjust your strategies. Relying solely on your own opinions without real-world testing can result in months of effort leading to radio silence…

In essence, if it takes an excessive amount of time to complete a single task, the only thing you're testing is your own patience - when in reality, what you should be testing is your ideas and strategies in the real market!


Perfection comes at a price

If the above hasn’t prompted you enough to remove your perfectionist hat, hopefully the costliness can convince you.

Perfectionism is expensive and often a price that startups and SMEs cannot afford. When you're in the early stages or running a small to medium-sized enterprise, managing budgets and burn rates is crucial. 

Every development activity or project should deliver the best possible value. It's essential to understand that achieving greatness is sufficient. Embrace ‘good’, acknowledge its value, and avoid wasting time striving for perfection. In the realm of business, time is a precious resource.

To highlight this point, take a look at the graph below…

For those unfamiliar with the law of diminishing returns, it emphasises that there's a threshold where further efforts or actions cease to yield significant gains. The time and resources invested beyond this point won't proportionally match the desired results. The challenge lies in recognising when that point has been reached.

It's clear that, in the context of time invested versus quality or value, 'good' can be achieved relatively quickly, especially with the right team, and 'great' is reachable within a reasonable timeframe. 

However, the pursuit of 'perfection' triggers the law of diminishing returns. The incremental improvement in value for the additional time invested doesn't justify the return.

From both a business and marketing standpoint, striving for perfection is unsustainable and comes with a hefty price tag.


Get it DONE!

If the above hasn’t prompted you enough to remove your perfectionist hat, hopefully the costliness can convince you.

Accept and celebrate good work - especially the good work performed by your team. Do not waste time on the endless pursuit of perfection. 

Get to a point that is good enough and then stop. Publish it, or present it or sign it off. But whatever you do, leave it there and enjoy the fact that you got good value and rapid results. 

Nobody can really afford perfect! Quite simply put: Get it done. Then optimise it!

Tags: News, PR, Digital PR, ITPR