Good Enough Won't Take You Far Away

Good Enough Won't Take You Far Away

Phoenix Normand 14/05/2019 4

I fear that we are in a quality control crisis. Evidenced by the very fast but poor first efforts I see in the wild. One of the mantras being pushed upon new entrepreneurs is, "Just put something out. You can perfect it as you go." While I agree that you shouldn't ruminate on a game-changing idea for too long and that an adoring public will forgive the slight gaffs inherent in rushing a product to market if the product fulfills a specific need in their lives, we are now establishing "good enough" as a bar by which new businesses, products, even employees are judged and showing up in the world.

I find it funny that we fawn all over Apple and their products as the gold standard by which all other consumer electronics are judged. Yes, Apple has created a legacy of producing some of the most beautiful, intuitive, iconic products in history. To be clear, they aren't necessarily the very best products with the most capability in the market. There are better, stronger, faster products in the wild that can put a majority of Apple's products to shame in speed and capability. And (post-Steve Jobs) Apple is rarely the trailblazer or the first-to-market. However, they do take their time with each release to ensure that everything they release is as close to perfection as it gets. And they've created a system of seamless, background updates so that the perception (read: illusion) of perfection isn't blemished in any way.

More and more, companies are pushing out products that are simply good enough. Good enough to claim the title of first-to-market, but not really all that good. Sure, they may fill a void to an extent, but they're mediocre at best. In aggregate, consumers must now wade through endless, middling, good enough products to surface the handful from companies who took a little extra time, ego and profits aside, to make sure their products ticked all of the boxes and completely filled the need from the jump. By expending the effort up front, a damn-near perfect product hits the market, and all subsequent efforts are spent raking in profits and prepping the next iteration vs. scrambling to fix bugs, add/edit features that should have been vetted during user/beta tests, and performing damage control inherent with pushing out a shitty, underwhelming product despite best intentions.

Now, let's apply the same concept to the human workforce. We, too, have some pretty gnarly quality control issues. And, as a result, we now have AI coming to our rescue. Automation is not new. And its intent is no secret. Human error and unreliability have cost businesses trillions of dollars in wasted resources and lost revenue throughout history. It's the reason why most personal vehicle manufacturers shifted to automated factories and laid off human employees by the shipload. It's the reason why personal electronics companies turned to automation to handle the most complex and most rudimentary processes once handled by human hands, but better and more reliably performed by machines. As a manufacturer, it makes more fiscal sense to allow machines to perform as many (once) human tasks as possible in order to ensure a certain level of consistent quality and push out product faster to meet ever-increasing consumer demand.

But let me quickly rein this back to us humans. Now, more than ever, we need to focus on the quality of the work we produce. Speed is great, don't get me wrong. But fast work with bonehead errors or incomplete narrative or less that fully-baked conclusions is never the cream that rises to the top. It is and always will be those annoying coffee grounds in the bottom of your Starbucks cup from coffee that wasn't quite filtered correctly. We need to get out of this mindset of good enough. It's a dangerous, slippery slope that can sink a company, especially if they've not created a legacy product or an audience that will forgive as readily as it consumes. Controlling this starts in the C-suite and, through consistent messaging, needs to be hammered home as often as possible, up and down the chain, so that it becomes a cultural tenet by which every employee in the company aligns their efforts and individual success bar.

One of the secrets to my success is my attention to detail. I've always taken the time to double-, often, triple-check my work to ensure that the product that I was putting out or sending up the chain was flawless or damned close. This provided me less anxiety once the send button was pushed and I could wholly focus on the next fire instead of low-key expecting something to be wrong and anticipating numerous edits to be made. That pulls focus and low-key erodes my onus to do my best work. Instead of only doing what I was told or expected of me, I'd always take the extra step of researching the subject matter in the request, double checking that a difficult name was spelled correctly, verifying addresses and titles, making sure logos were current, updating info therein in my/my boss' contacts, etc. Not simply completing a task. Those extra steps over a period of 27 years as a top C-suite Executive Assistant allowed me to be Apple in my career instead of an Asus or NeXT. And that work ethic and personal/professional quality control have allowed me to now take on the role of an Executive Vice President of a global design and manufacturing firm without having to scramble to level up my skills, competencies and work ethic, only apply them.

Good enough as a business and cultural tenet has got to end. It's dangerous, as evidenced by this faltering administration, the 737 MAX incidences, the numerous product recalls resulting from unintended infant deaths, I'd even say our still, uncontrolled opioid crisis. Good enough has created a level of complacency that has all but destroyed the concept of customer service. Good enough has given us permission to stop striving for perfection or the type of innovation we were promised with "The Jetsons" decades ago. Where TF is my flying car? Sorry, a Tesla is only good enough. It's pretty sweet. It's progress. But it's only good enough. Don't know about you, but I'm seriously hungry from some more great and perfect in my life, that I would happily throw my money at. I digress.

Buck the trend of good enough in your professional and personal life. Be Apple. Take the time to iterate thoughtfully and aggressively in-house before sending anything into the wild. Make sure that those who consume your work have the same, seamless, intuitive, beautiful experience as they would using an Apple product. Sure, be efficient. But taking an extra few minutes or hour here and there will actually save you much more time and potential loss of trust in your attention-to-detail on the backend than rushing something into the light you deem good enough when it's actually perceived as shit by the consumer.

Everything you do represents your brand. And, as weird as it may sound to some, YOU are a brand. Every little gaff, oversight, typo, exclusion, and flub call your entire history into question, not just your mistake du jour. Again, be Apple. Take the time to put out product you are proud of, that perfectly represents your brand, and provides a seamless experience to your consumer, consistently. Like Apple, that's what sets you apart from all competition and allows you to charge the big bucks that consumers will happily pay knowing they are getting the dopest of the dope (or close) every time. Not some "meh" knock off that's good enough. For now.

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  • Aaron Vincent

    I gotta admit that Apple are the best at marketing their products. They are so unique.

  • Matt Lewis

    Apple should make the Apple logo a fingerprint scanner.

  • Jason Holman

    So powerful

  • Randy Willis

    One of your best articles !!!

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Phoenix Normand

Society Expert

Phoenix is coaching and supporting American billionaires, CEOs and executive teams in tech, retail and banking for over 25 years. He also founded and created MEGA Assistant University, a revolutionary skills and mindset “boot camp” for top Executive and Personal Assistants who want to level up quickly and begin forging a mutually successful business partnership with their executives and teams. Phoenix holds a Bachelors of Arts in European Studies/Civilisation from Trinity College Dublin.

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