In defence of perfection

Suckers for punishment, we’re putting ourselves in the firing line again by sharing our rather unorthodox opinion… This time about ‘perfection’ in the SME workplace.

Blogs and articles about perfectionism and its crushing effects on SMEs are everywhere. The crux usually is that the pursuit of perfection means people get bogged down in the small things and lose sight of the bigger picture.


The trouble with aiming low

There is a widespread view that not everything you do can be perfect (and don’t get us wrong – we agree in principle). The issue is that the prevailing anti-perfectionism sentiment gives rise to a sloppy, ‘It’s good enough’ mentality. Better to do everything to an average standard than a few things brilliantly. Our view is that this is too much like valuing quantity over quality.

We saw a quote the other day that read, ‘Perfection is shallow, unreal and fatally uninteresting’. For some reason, this was a hard pill to swallow. Perhaps because in our business, this simply does not fly.


Why we shoot for the moon

For example, when we take on a client who is brave enough to start their own business or re-brand after many years (an equally challenging emotional roller-coaster), it is our job to develop creative that reflects their vision and does it justice. We have processes in place to achieve this and when our team perfects it, the result is far from shallow, unreal and uninteresting. To the contrary, it is exceptional…

The argument here is not that what you deliver has to be perfect every time – we know that’s impossible. Our view is that aiming for perfection is no bad thing. We feel that giving 80-90% is not good enough. Not for our clients.

As well as the perfection quotes we’ve come across that don’t gel with us (‘The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement’, ‘Striving for perfection is demoralising’ etc), there are a few pro-perfection quotes that we love and want to share. Ones that beautifully sum up our beliefs:

‘Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.’

Vince Lombardi

“Perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

Angelique Arnold.

There is a disclaimer to all of this too (isn’t there always?). Perfection, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder… but that’s a blog for another day.