Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Is being a perfectionist a bad thing?

I often hear people tell me that they're perfectionists.  They say it in a sort-of self-deprecating kind of way, but most people on the other end always find it a bit endearing.  After all, what's not to like about somebody that loves to give it their all and create something that's perfect?  But yesterday, I heard a quote from Jeff Lamb, CTO and self-proclaimed nerd from Q-Start Labs, that challenges this notion.

"Good is the enemy of perfect."

Actually, it was Voltaire that originated this quote, but it's definitely one that made me think.  After all, shouldn't we execute everything we set out to do perfectly?

Nope.  Not as a startup.

The notion isn't that we should settle for something that's sub-par.  Instead, at this critical stage of building a company, we should be putting a very basic product in front of customers, iterating, pivoting (if necessary), and repeating steps 1 - 3.  You can't do this if you spend months behind closed doors creating a perfect product.  The reality is, you have no idea if what you're creating is "perfect" until you put it in front of the very people that can actually tell you:  your customers.

From here on out, I'll think twice before proclaiming myself to be a perfectionist.