by Paula on January 10, 2011

I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist and wanted to deliver 110% of anything I’m ever asked to do. Recently there have been a couple of cases that have caused me to re-think and wonder whether sometimes, achieving that level of perfection in the first instance, is time wasted. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts….

The first situation has occurred a number of times at a current place of work. I am given a brief of a task or project to carry out, and it is often a little sketchy. I struggle to get the detail I need to be able to do the excellent job I want to, and spend a lot of time trying to meet the unclear goal. I will then, after achieving as near to what I have guessed is wanted as possible, hand over the piece of work for comment. It will be then, that the individual will look over what’s been put forward, give constructive comment as to what they actually intended and I can go away and do a great job. In an ideal world this might happen once, in reality this back and forth may happen several times as the work I do helps them have clarity on what it was they really wanted! For the first time recently I just ‘had a go’ and put forward a piece of work that had a good solid effort but no bells and whistles. This was received, commented on, and I went back and brought it up to the (now clear) requirements.

Now it took a big step for me to submit something that I didn’t  see as the finished article but it took me less than half the time to be able to offer something that was a good way there. The back and forth as the goals became clearer was no longer or shorter than when I gave 100% in the first stab, leaving me wondering whether my usual first attempt efforts are wasted…..

Then in my Social Media work I am sometimes coming across the same. To the clients I work with Social Media is something new. It is my work with them that helps them share their business goals, and for me to help them understand what Social Networks might be appropriate and how they might be used to get them to these desired goals. Naturally when taking on board something new, there can be a process of trying and seeing before understanding is fully grasped. It is often thought to be an advertising medium rather than a networking opportunity, and seeing the type of things people respond to can take time and trial and error.

I therefore realise that with Social Media lessons can be learnt from my project work. It is an ideal scenario to have total clarity and buy in to your work prior to starting out, but it can also hold you back to wait for that. Sometimes it’s better just to make than solid plan, and then start having a go. If the client is unable, through lack of understanding of something new, to provide the exact framework and details you require, it will be a lot easier for them to like or not like things you are doing, and learn along the way.

So my lesson I have learnt through this is that it is good and important to have a plan, a goal and to know which direction you are going before you start. But, sometimes it is ok to make a bit of it up along the way.

To put it in the analogy of a journey. It is easy to spend so much time planning your route and what you take with you to cover every eventuality, and fail to actually leave the house! Or you could just have the best idea you can gather, and most of what you think you need, and then just get in that car and start driving – the rest will become clear as you drive along, and there will always be something along the way that you didn’t expect, to ensure that your best laid plans need changing anyway.

Happy motoring! :-)


J W January 17, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Nicely put Paula. It’s important to have a plan and a goal. Your chances of success are greatly diminished without them. Even more crucial than these, however, is ACTION! I’ve read and heard so much about the importance of setting goals and making plans, but all too often I’ve found myself unable to define the target _exactly_. This inevitably means the plan will be incomplete, but often we find these descrepancies can be rectified en route. I therefore conclude that the most important thing is to ACT. Don’t get me wrong, unguided or mis-guided action can lead to failure and a poorly defined goal/target/specification can lead to something that fails to meet all requirement, but without action you’ll get nothing. Get started and achieve something. We can usually fill in the blanks later. As Kipling wrote in his famous poem ‘If’, …fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run….

Tony January 13, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Few things in life are reliable. If you are sure of what the outcome is going to be then you can go ahead and make a perfect plan and push it through. But in uncertain circumstances its best to go a little way forward and then be prepared to adapt your strategy to the situation as it seems to be developing.

How do you tell one from the other? Experience counts for a lot but my suspicion is that there is a great deal of luck involved! If thats the case then I suggest that we are better off when we follow an irrational hunch knowing that things may not turn out as we think rather than assume that the most likely course of events is bound to occur.

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