Lately, I find that a section of the training community has been extolling the virtues of not being perfect. Through blogs, posts circulated on WA or videos on YouTube, they scout for not chasing perfection. They say that the pursuit of perfection gives stress and are voluble on the demerits of being perfect.
Therefore, the question arises is the pursuit of perfectionism that bad?
Every coin has two sides and in order to provide a balanced perspective, it would have been beneficial if they had included an examination of the benefits of being a perfectionist. I am yet to come across a balanced view. The purpose of this article is to bring forth the other side.
Whether we are satisfied with being imperfect or not, do we, as a customer, not expect 100% foolproof products or services? How many of us are ready to buy television sets, refrigerators, or any other gadgets that work at 99.9% efficiency? How many of us are ok with misrouting our telephone calls, and the network service provider questions the customer for expecting perfection?
Influenced by the theory of imperfections, how many employees are ready to condone the HR Department if it fails to process their monthly salary? In fact, if an HR professional justifies forgetting the processing of salary for being imperfect, it could cost an HR professional his/her job!
The leadership trainers often use the example of the Mumbai Dabbawalas in their corporate training for a reason. It is said that even Six Sigma is inadequate to measure their efficiency. The question is: did they achieve this by aiming for perfection or imperfection?
Additionally, the argument for being imperfect is that perfectionism promotes procrastination. However, it is widely acknowledged that the Mumbai Dabbawalas are not known for procrastination.
About 20-25 years ago, it was common to use a data storage device known as the Floppy Disk. The famous Japanese company, Sony, exported 16 billion pieces of Floppy Disks, but not a single exported piece was defective. However, business history does not tell us that Sony's managers procrastinated.
The three elements of perfectionism are precision, accuracy, and timeliness. At the core of the triangle formed by these elements is consistency. If the employees do not adhere to the four elements of the triangle, then will it be possible for them to provide foolproof products or services?
Not just in the business context, but a quest for perfectionism is done in a personal capacity also. Lionel Messi became a living legend because of his "perfect" goals and so is Sachin Tendulkar for his perfect hits or strokes. If they had found the merits of being imperfect, would they have acquired world-level fame?
The theory of operations management requires the application of analytical tools to optimise the costs, reduce the consumption of resources or reduce the process turnaround time. In the early era of the industrial revolution, if being imperfect would have been valued, these disciplines of studies would not have taken birth at all.
Being imperfect means giving allowances for errors. However, someone's errors impact the work of some other persons. Over a period of time, those who are at the butt of the errors could get frustrated. The expression of frustration if not done professionally, then it could vitiate the interpersonal environment. How many of us are ready to put up with the cascading effect of being imperfect?
If one looks at business history, one finds that Fortune 500 companies have a deadly pursuit of perfection. In fact, a few Fortune 500 companies have become industrial empires because for them, "perfection" is a little dilute word. They expect their employees to be far more than perfect!