Don’t Let the Quest for Perfect Ruin Good

In today’s fast-changing market, sometimes good is good enough.

You have an idea — perhaps a brilliant business venture, a life-changing gadget you thought up or a new app for your company. You are excited about the possibility of the project but you start getting stuck in the details of how exactly it should look and work. You try to anticipate every needed feature and function. You are trying to make the project perfect.


It is easy to get caught up in the pursuit of perfection mulling over the smallest details over and over without ever executing the project. After six months of planning and planning, you can end up with nothing to show for it except a few documents, sketches, and prototypes. After 12 months you may have something useful, and even good, but not perfect – so you don’t launch.

- Sponsors -


Many customers, clients, and coworkers need and will be satisfied with “very good.” Will you accept a dry cleaner that is very good or will you not wear clothes unless they are perfect? Will you accept a software application or website that is very good or will you abandon it because it is not perfect? No, you won’t.

Your project is no different. In your insistence and quest for “perfect” you deny your customers, clients and coworkers something that could be “very good” to them. You must continually ask yourself, “Is what I have created so far usable by someone, and will it help them in some positive way?” If the answer is yes, launch it.

- Partner Content -

Sunni LeBeouf

Black History Month Spotlight This Black History Month, Cox Communications is proud to recognize Sunni LeBeouf for her prolific record of professional achievement, civic philanthropy,...

Million-Dollar Mistakes

I was a member of a software team that created a large compliance software application that tracked and satisfied the Sarbanes-Oxley compliance regime. The software was amazing in my view, and I was very proud of our work. When the team had completed all the requirements, the product manager (and business owner) told us, “We need a dashboard.” So we designed a beautiful dashboard in about a month, and it was wonderful.

We were ready to put the software in front of the thousands of customer demanding it. The product manager again crushed our enthusiasm with his next demand: “We need a survey module.” On and on, the Version 1 masterpiece was denied from the starving market of customers. Four million dollars later, the company had zero customers and eventually folded. Why? Because the quest for “perfect” ruined what was “very good.”

- Sponsors -


Launch Early and Often – A Few Cases

This sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be. There have been many good ideas that went for it—and took off to extreme success. Their initial launches weren’t perfect, or even aesthetically pleasing for that matter, but their good idea was more than enough. The fact that they did the work and put it in the public eye before anyone else had the same idea or application made a big difference in the success of the idea.

Take SnapChat, for example. The concept is simple: Send and receive photo and video messages that disappear after 15 seconds or so. What makes SnapChat unique is that it capitalizes on the idea that some things we just don’t need (or want) to have a digital record of forever.

When founders Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel had the idea, they didn’t waste any time in launching. SnapChat now boasts [Link] 700 million messages sent a day [/Link]. They even turned down Mark Zuckerberg’s offer to acquire the company. Facebook then launched a nearly identical app called Poke days later, but because SnapChat was the first to market, Poke didn’t make a dent (pun intended) in SnapChat’s success.

How about Plenty of Fish? Founder Markus Frind came up with a dating service that was different from the rest: It was free. Frind mastered the art of SEO and quickly grew from 40 members to 10,000 between March and November of 2003. Thanks to capitalizing on ad revenue early on, he is now able to offer a free service to users while raking in $10 million per year. Is another online-dating site revolutionary? Does the site have the best design? Has it changed much at all in the past 11 years? No. But it works. And it’s the No. 1 dating site in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

And then there’s the ultimate “good” not “perfect” example: Craigslist. Brilliantly simple, what started as a way to post upcoming arts and music events in San Francisco quickly evolved into the online classifieds forum we know today. It looks the same as it did in 1995. And it’s not the prettiest thing to look at. But it does its job, and we all use it.

Agile Expects Change but Delivers As You Go

Okay, so you’re ready to dig in and get to work. You’ve got an idea for an application for your company but you don’t know where to start.

Where to begin? Enter Agile, a methodology that forward-thinking software shops use to develop custom software, websites and projects. Its whole premise is based on action: breaking the work down into phases and handing in deliverables every two weeks. Planning is executed on the deliverable at hand. Instead of spending a few thousand dollars planning for seven months without any product to show for it, Agile gets you developing the product immediately, refining, revising, and planning for the features as they are executed. You have deliverables every two weeks, which allows you to adapt, overcome and respond.

In this style of delivery, you can work toward a MVP (minimum viable product) that makes and keeps users happy. The attached visual looks at the difference between a quest for perfect and delivering a viable product:

The idea isn’t perfect from the get-go? No problem. Agile not only anticipates change, it expects it. Changing, adding or even dropping features is expected and does not result in a trip back to the drawing board.

Don’t be scared, and don’t spend six months writing documentation that turns a forward-moving project into a fight over contract verbiage and change orders. Get your MVP defined and developed so you can be their MVP (most valued professional) 

Calvin Fabre is president of Envoc (pronounced “invoke”), For over 12 years, Envoc has been creating custom software you can’t “buy off the shelf” and seeing client brands from creation through consumption, whether in web design, print, brand strategy, corporate dashboards, portals or mobile applications.


Digital Sponsors / Become a Sponsor

Follow the issues, companies and people that matter most to business in New Orleans.

Email Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter