The Hard Thing About Perfect

The hard thing about perfect is that it takes too long. And, as a result, it’s usually not perfect — or not perfectly useful — by the time it arrives (if ever it does).

Nothing is perfect, but some things are better than others. Some of those are even remarkable.

Too often, though, perfect means waiting, hiding, and being brittle. After all, if you can’t ship till it’s perfect, you’ll never ship. And if you’re marketing the thing you’re shipping as perfect already, how can you innovate or improve it?

You can’t get perfect, and you certainly can’t get perfecter. Somewhat more perfect might be OK for the industrialist seeking to make mass-market products incrementally better, but it’s not going to make things better in a meaningful sense.

The solution is to think organically rather than industrially. Try lots of experiments before they’re ready, learn from all of them, and build on the ones that work.

Evolution through experimentation rules out perfect. But it paves the road toward better.


For an extraordinary investigation of brittleness vs. suppleness, check out last week’s episode of Seth Godin’s podcast, Akimbo. “Supple” is well worth 30 minutes of your weekend.