Friday, October 16, 2009

Matthew Cornell's "Don't-Care-o-Meter" and my "Good Enough" mentality

Just read a blog by Matthew Cornell about his client's "Don't-Care-o-Meter".  I follow Matthew's blog due to my ongoing search for improved productivity (which will never be complete).  Matthew's "Don't-Care-o-Meter" post is great.  It basically talks about how many of us are always striving for perfection, when 80% of perfect would be "good enough".

As a manager, I think the "good enough" skill is one of the toughest traits to learn.  Prior to me moving into a management role, I was always striving for perfection.  When I then had direct reports, I looked to them to work towards perfection.  The problem is that everyone has a different impression of "perfection" and it seems like our own measure of "perfection" is always higher than others.  As a manager, holding your directs to your standards is the kiss of death.  You will kill yourself trying to get your directs to get the project done exactly to your desired level.

For me, there came a time when I became overwhelmed.  With my study of GTD and thanks to the GTD Virtual Study Group, I knew I had to change something to stay out of the "overwhelm" zone.  I realized I needed to learn to accept the "good enough" mentality in order to increase my, and my team's, productivity.  With this, our project quality has suffered a little bit in our eyes.  The good thing is that the quality is in the eye of the beholder, and most people think we're still providing just as high of a quality work.  I spend a lot less time reviewing my direct reports work and now give items a quick review, a little feedback (see Manager-tools for a great feedback approach, MT rocks) and move on.  I probably have reduced this review time by 80%, giving me more time to focus on my projects.

This focus on "good enough" has really helped, what I'm learning is that there is a fine line where "good enough" can get you into trouble (check back here soon for more on this).

Do you have a story about a "Good Enough" mentality?  Has "Good Enough" bit you before?  Let us know.


  1. Nice post on perfectionism, Darren. I've found that, at least with the people I work with, almost no one goes below Good Enough. It's a stretch to get them down to even "Very Good." BTW, I love your quote "quality is in the eye of the beholder". Exactly.

  2. Matt, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Thank you for what you share on your blog.