The Pursuit of Perfection Should Not Hinder the Pursuit of Improvement

08.03.21 1:55 AM

The pursuit of perfection, not only in business but in life in general, has long since been a core tenet of society.  It's not as if the belief that perfection can be achieved, per se, has ever become accepted though.  The very definition of perfection precludes any room for improvement.  Be it beauty standards, sports achievements, artistic creations, business processes, or anything else, there is always something flawed, broken, or able to be improved upon.  Photoshop and airbrushing can move models towards the impossible beauty standard.  New techniques, more practice, and perhaps the use of performance-enhancing drugs can result in greater sporting achievements.  Artistic creations and the public's taste change, moving a particular piece in and out of favor.  Business processes can be made more efficient, automated, and more muda eliminated.

The inherent inability to achieve perfection and the fundamental principle that flaws will always exist should not be taken in a negative connotation.  Instead, they should be celebrated as an opportunity.  Speaking strictly in the business context, can you imagine what might happen to an industry if it perfected itself?  No more room for improvement in any area; the hypothetical business has obtained the definition of perfect.  All of its competitors would immediately be put on very short timelines to either perfectly emulate the perfect processes, or go out of business.  There would be no reason to deal with any other company besides the hypothetically perfect one, and so the market would rapidly transition to only working with them.  Even those emulating the perfect business would be nothing more than an automated clone; deviations from the processes would move away from perfection, and by the very definition of perfect, literally no innovation can be deployed to give a competitive edge.

Not only is embracing room for improvement in business vital, it opens a new mindset: that the pursuit of perfection should never hinder the pursuit of improvement.  That is to say, knowing how overwhelming a task moving from current state to desired state is should not prevent moving from current state to 'new' state; a perpetual refinement that acknowledges that it is not perfect, but is better than yesterday.  Applying this mindset to tackling the problems within business removes the need to get it right the first time, or the fear of failure.  Instead, it frames it through the lens of reasonable and achievable progress.  One step at a time, one refinement at a time, towards the goal of perfection, but never getting overwhelmed at not arriving at the destination, and enjoying the journey.  And naturally, if there are too many processes that need attention and improvement, BMI is here to help ease your burden.

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