Tech Leadership in so Many Words…#17 Perfection

Andrew Weaver
July 11, 2023

“Perfect is the enemy of good” – Voltaire

I am not and never have been a perfectionist, something of a mixed blessing in the past.

Some start-up projects went out too soon, were half-baked from the start and met with the underwhelming results they deserved. 

Whilst other projects went out too soon, but hit the ground running as a result of early market validation and iterations.

What was consistent across all was that the MVPs were never pretty and all were far from perfect.

But perfectionism is an issue for many and a crippling one for some.

It also stimulated the launch of CTO Academy because I’d seen more than one start-up where a tech co-founder couldn’t let the product go until it was “market ready”.

Meanwhile, the market had moved so quickly that a once-innovative product was already off the pace as a combination of overthinking and over-engineering killed an opportunity at birth.

Those from a technical background are often most vulnerable to this failing as a default, perfectionist instinct can sometimes suffocate their ability to make an impact.

Effective technology leaders understand the balance required between making a product that you can be proud of and needing to get it out of the door asap and let the market tell you what’s good, bad and superfluous about those features you’re currently poring over.

In other words, it might be a product that is far from perfect and potentially even embarrassing, but let the market be the judge.

How do you manage out this instinct?

You probably never will so a few simple suggestions from our collective experience:

  • Apply the 80/20 rule… and get it out there.
  • Don’t drive the team to despair… overt demands for perfection can have the opposite effect so understand how to define “good enough”
  • Become a lifelong learner rather than a perfectionist… enjoy the process rather than just pushing for the ideal end product.

Voltaire knew a thing or two about life including the fact that ultimately, perfectionism is very inefficient.

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