If you are living the life of uncertainty and ambiguity, have tons of new ideas in your head and aspire to achieve some of them more quickly than others do, you must have used two phrases quite often in your daily conversations: ‘Done is better than Perfect” and ‘First Time Right’.
So, what do these phrases mean? Do we understand it well before we throw this in our discussions? Let me put down my thoughts and seek your point of view.
Typically, there are 3 dimensions that are in play when we are trying to create something new. Time, Scope and Resource. Combining these 3 inputs in right ratios will determine the quality of the outcome that can be measured by the value we derive out of it.
Be it as simple as making a new dish in the kitchen, a power point presentation for your office or a relative complex digital solution for your business, we can apply these frames as per situation and evaluate what works the best for us.
Let me elaborate on each one of them.
If you are experimenting with a new dish and have some time constraint, you don’t need to be finicky about exact proportion of each and every ingredient. In this case ‘Done is better than Perfect’ approach may work. Based on the quality of the outcome (taste in this case), you can improvise on the timing and ingredients (resource) next time and get a better taste.
If you were to make a presentation for internal stakeholders to communicate a new process roll out, simple slides explaining new process and key messaging is more important than beautiful pictures and lots of content. ‘Done is better than Perfect’ approach can be more efficient here.
But if the presentation is meant for a sales pitch, where outcome can determine winning a new client and new revenue, it must undergo couple of reviews to make it picture perfect before it has to be presented to the client. Here we should apply ‘First Time Right’ principle.
Now let’s understand the most complex use case. If you were to think about a digital solution for a new business model or opening up a new revenue channel where outcome may determine the future of the venture, it may be a good idea to create an MVP (minimum viable product) and plan to deliver it in smaller batches. Planning of MVP and prioritizing ‘Must have’ features can be construed as ‘Done is better than Perfect’ approach but delivering each smaller batch with good production quality code requires ‘First Time Right’ mindset.
Some of the core systems in Banking, Finance, Accounting etc. are so critical where minutest error may create more damage hence ‘Done is better than Perfect’ mindset may prove to be fatal. Here, you require ‘First Time Right’ approach.
However, to try out a new idea quick enough and take lead against its competitions, you may want to do a quick job of putting a solution and launch in the market. In this case, you should not be wasting your effort in perfecting the solution before beta launch.
To sum it up, if agility is the key driver behind your initiative, ‘Done is better than Perfect’ is the approach to yield more value. If stability and quality of the solution is of utmost importance ‘First Time Right’ mindset will help you.
Finally, in this VUCA world when you are always running around to balance agility with stability, hybrid approach is the best foot forward. You can start by breaking down the big problem into smaller chunks and test your initial idea. Once you have validated the direction, focus on quality to make the solution perfect. This way you can blend both the approaches to solve an undefined problem and create an excellent outcome.