Done, imperfectly

“Well, if you don’t have time to do it right, what makes you think you’ll have time to do it over?” – Seth Godin, Purple Cow

Your work isn’t perfect.

And it doesn’t need to be. Yet it still needs to get done.

  • “Done, imperfectly” = Done. Next comes refinery & optimization.
  • “Not done but perfecting” = Not Done. Next comes procrastination.
  • “Not done right” = Not Done. Next comes a redo, if the opportunity stands.

As team members and individuals, whenever we do tasks or assume responsibilities, we should remember in a pinch that:

  • “Done, imperfectly” is the best of the three. Reply to the client right away. Get the product to market. Make the sales call. Imperfectly.
  • Opportunities aren’t forever: If the client is compelled to look elsewhere, the product runs out of funding, or the lead goes cold, ‘perfect’ was too late.
  • “Done, imperfectly” is rare. Despite “perfecting”-ers” failing just as fast as  “not done right”-ers, in a pinch.

What do you need to get done, imperfectly, today?

100 year beliefs

Ever thought, ‘If I knew the future, I could rock today”?

Yesterday we talked about intuition. Today we’re talking about beliefs.

From machine rights to literally sharing your thoughts with others, the future is sure to contain many “surely not” moments.

But what do you believe today that, in 100 years time, will seem totally ridiculous?

  • Your industry: What could it look like? By considering beliefs that may become ridiculous, we can consider how to push today’s actions toward the future.
  • Your team: What could it look like? By investing in skills and values that will still be valuable, we can consider how to develop a culture that stands the test of time.
  • Your world: What could it look like? By considering beliefs that will eventually seem ridiculous (e.g. “climate change isn’t a problem”) we can shape our contribution to the world today.

What do you believe? Future-pace it and see what happens.

More human: Intuition

Last month we touched on 3 things robots can’t do.

Let’s touch on the first: intuition.

Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without proof, evidence or conscious reasoning, or understanding how the knowledge was acquired.

This enables us to say:

  • “The future should look like this…” For instance, ‘no more slavery’, or ‘a phone for every human’. A vision for a destination that transcends transaction, instead focusing on an ideal.
  • Forget ‘trends’, we’re heading over here…” For instance, predicting a new market or emerging sector with little-to-no proof. The ability to zag when everyone else zigs.
  • “Forget data, this is what I think…” For instance, spotting a good hire or investment because it feels right.

Intuition behaves below consciousness, we experience it from our subconscious, away from focal awareness or critical-thought function (things AI will effectively simulate).

Aside from the eventually-autonomous parts of your work, how can you and your teammates bring more intuition to your work?

Knowing less and more

How much do you know?

Those who focus on what they know, know the least. The more you talk, the less listening–and learning–you get to do. The more someone enjoys the sound of their own voice, the less likely there’ll be wisdom in their words.

Those who focus on what they don’t know, know the most. Great minds ask great questions, talk less, and absorb the information in the room. When they do decide to speak, you know it’s worth hearing.

Teams thrive when members are more interested in learning from each other than convincing each other.

Which do you do prefer: talking, or listening?

Gary’s neckties

Ever been to a tie shop?

To some, a necktie is a necessary item in a store with too many options to choose from. $18 to “get me out of here.”

To Hermès, a necktie tells a story – one so important, they feature Gary, “the peerless expert”, to guide shoppers toward the right tie for them on their website and Madison Ave store. $180 to “tell my story with my ensemble.”

Most teams get to choose how they see themselves and the value they bring to the products and services in their market. Just like like Gary and his team did.

Who would you like to deal with? The “Get me out of here” guys or the “Tell my story with my ensemble” guys?

And who do you want to be? The faceless retail help peddling cheap ties to whomever, or “Gary the peerless-expert”?

What’s stopping you?

What’s your coachline?

Mark Court is really good at what he does.

If you’ve ever seen a Rolls-Royce with coachlines (stripes), you’ve seen his work.

That’s what he does: he paints coachlines.

  • He mastered his skill: Rolls enabled him to do that. He got to perfect his skill, and use his genius on great works.
  • He works with other masters: Because great coachlines don’t matter much if the rest of the car is shoddy.
  • Team advantage: Because they mastered their respective skills, Rolls gets to keep their brand promise of “ultimate automotive sophistication”.

We’ve talked about how great teams of A+B Players invest in being that way. Everyone needs to know and nurture their genius to make a team truly great.

What’s your coachline?

Why or what

Which of these two statements do you prefer:

  1. “Why did you do that?”
  2. “What happened & what can we learn from it?”

If you’re like most people, you’ll much prefer hearing the latter.

The first leaves people feeling like whatever they tried to do was wrong, and that they shouldn’t do it again. That growth is too dangerous to attempt.

The second leaves people feeling like whatever they tried to do wasn’t perfect, and can be improved. That growth is too important not to attempt.

Next time you give feedback to a team member, which is it to be: Why or What?


Be careful what you create.

Some teams try to create everything. And therefore nothing is truly amazing, simply because they had to try to do it all themselves. Even Rolls-Royce curates liberally from BMW parts, allowing them to focus their creative-genius on what makes them unique.

Other teams try to curate everything. And therefore nothing is truly unique, simply because they won’t create anything themselves. Even Amazon creates its own products, despite profiting almost-exclusively from selling other people’s products.

What do you create? Make it your genius, and make it the best work of your lives.

What do you curate? Work with the best, and let them make it the best work of their lives.

Fake watches and focus

Fake things can damage your focus.

One of my favorite wristwatch designs is Omega’s Seamaster 300. It’s around $5,000 to acquire. Fakes are apparently around $200.

Quality and ethics should be the least of a fake buyer’s concerns. Worse is the mindset it creates for that buyer:

  • Compromiser: While even considering a purchase, one would have to begin convincing themselves of what “doesn’t matter so much”, from what they believe is ‘right’ to what qualities they can forgo.
  • Regressive: One’s focus turns from growth to reduction, on how to reduce an ideal (“I don’t like it anyway”) rather than rising to it (“that’s a lovely piece”).
  • Glass ceiling: Making a purchase would solidify what you think is–and isn’t–possible for you (“I could never have the real thing anyway”).

This has nothing to do with wristwatches, or what is/isn’t an acceptable price for something.

It’s about you.

Where is your focus: on uncompromising growth and potential, or on merely faking it?

Why does that rule exist?

Sometimes the only answer we have is, “Because that’s just how people do it.”

And it’s a terrible answer.

Teams the world over accept this answer without ever challenging it. What if yours did?

  • Does that need to be done? (examples: Complex hierarchical org chart; One more meeting; Paperwork)
  • Does it need to be done in that way? (examples: Top-down leadership; Live and in-person; PDF format)
  • What if we changed it to be more…? (examples: Customer-centric; Fun; Simple)

Most rules were defined by people no smarter than you, and many standards are simply coincidental patterns we chose to accept.

How might things change for your team if you remember these facts next time someone asks, “Why does that rule exist?”