Many of us are taught from childhood to “do our best.” We are not told to “do our best given the available time and resources available to us.” Therein lays the trap.
Steve Jobs tried “doing his best” when he was at Apple the first time. The products were months delayed, overpriced, and nearly drove the company into bankruptcy. Jobs was booted out. When he came back to Apple 10 years later, he had learned his lesson. He still obsessed about quality, but was willing to accept less than perfect products and improve on them over time.
It’s an important lesson for business leaders. We need to keep striving for perfection, but we can’t let perfection keep us from moving forward. In business, obsessing about the perfect product leads to missed marketing communities. In Congress, striving for ideologically perfect legislation leads to gridlock. In clean tech and impact start-ups, lack of market information can lead to good ideas that never get off the ground.