August 19, 2011

Is Good Enough Good Enough?

Recently I have been looking for a new creative person to join my development team. While going through the interview process I have been struck by an issue that has been part of all creative pursuits for years and is now appearing in a variety of business situations and projects of all types.

Is good enough good enough?

During the interviews I have been asking the interviewees to tell me about some recent projects they have completed where they had to utilize their knowledge, creativity, and skill. I ask them to walk me through their process including how they plan their projects, how they decide what information or content they need from the requestor, and how they work with others as a team. I want to hear how they process all of the incoming information, determine what to build, and decide if they successfully completed the project. Ultimately, I want to know whether the project met their own vision of success.

Separate from the interviews, I have also been in conversation with existing members of the development team regarding their desire to build great things and their feelings of frustration that, for a variety of reasons, they can’t build what they visualize. They want to know how they can grow their skills, expand their knowledge, and deliver great products if they are constantly having to work under a variety of constraints. These constraints range from requests with short delivery timeframes to bandwidth challenges to limited budgets.

Noting the similarities in these two situations, I have added a question to my interviews.

“Is good enough good enough?”

And I have begun to ask my existing team the same question with a slight twist.

“When is good enough good enough?”

The answer in both situations turns out to be, it depends.

For the interviewees, while their initial answer is no, good enough is not good enough, when pressed to discuss the constraints that existed during their project development, they reveal that given the constraints that existed, their real answer turns out to be, it depends. Many times the situation dictated that good enough was enough because it had to be.

And my existing team acknowledges the same conclusion. Based on the business situation and the “Quality, Cost, Price” matrix (triangle) which states that you can typically only have two of these items in play at any one time, the situation will dictate when good enough really is.

There is one additional thing that both my existing team and the interviewees agree on.

If good enough really is good enough, what do you if, for you, it is not?

You work beyond the limits.

You find ways to meet the business objective, hit the business timelines, and deliver the good enough product.

And then you work toward that great product you really want.

You do things such as:
  • build a parallel deliverable with the desired features
  • transition the project into phases with the additional phases scheduled after the initial project due date
  • share the workload or project across the team with different team members handling different sections based on their skill set
  • show the requestor what could be and asking for more time to make it happen.

So what do you think? Is good enough good enough? Or do you have some additional suggestions for working toward great?

1 comment:

Shirley Fine Lee (aka Meeting Wizard) said...

With instructional design, too many people struggle with perfection when deadlines and immediate needs approach us. We all want to deliver “the best,” but perfect is not always practical or time effective when a problem needs to be resolved. That is why we have pilot classes and test groups – to tell us if it is good enough, needs improvement, or completely misses the mark. You and your team are so right “it depends” when good enough is the place to stop. When good enough is not enough, we get what we can “out there” and move for continuous improvement in phases using revision numbers or new release dates and/or course title changes and follow-on modules to move from good to better.