For businesses that are planning for the next opportunity, next-level growth, excellence is always a worthwhile pursuit. But how do you know when the quest for doing things well tips into perfectionism—causing delays or impeding progress? 

For businesses, an overemphasis on perfection can result in paralysis and the inability to innovate and for teams, it can get in the way of progress as projects are never quite good enough to move forward.

Effective work is about moving toward the desired destination, and not necessarily about ensuring that nothing gets spilled or knocked over in the process. Mistakes will happen. It’s the momentum that matters, and ensuring that time is not wasted obsessing over small things that won’t end up having a significant impact in achieving the objective.

Perfection can get in the way of progress, holding out for perfection before seeking a development opportunity, delaying a team’s progress until everything is just right, or being overly critical of ideas can impede individuals, teams and businesses.     

Here’s how you can focus on being excellent without falling into the trap of striving for perfection:

Seek to extend – One of the traits of perfectionism is to avoid situations where failure may be a possible result. Learning cannot occur without failure. If you’re never failing, you’re probably not extending yourself enough—and you may be striving for perfection instead of excellence.

Find feedback – To improve continuously and pursue accomplishments, feedback is imperative.  It’s natural to miss an objective or fall short in a task if you’re challenging yourself.  Use feedback as stepping stones to build skills and talents.

Plan for evolution – Have a mindset and culture where improvement is the norm.   Getting an idea out there, and releasing a project when it is good enough—rather than perfect—is acceptable when you plan to review, iterate and apply new thinking. Ensure a system for continuous improvements to pursue excellence.  This thinking applies to products, projects, businesses, capabilities, systems and processes as well as individual personal development.

So how do you get more done while remaining effective, accountable and ensuring the quality of work? Focus on the process, not the final product. When you put too much emphasis on the final product, you begin to imagine it as this perfect end, which isn’t what it’s supposed to be, nor is it what will most likely take shape.

The focus needs to be on the day-to-day habits, systems and processes that allow your work to unfold. When you focus on the process instead of the final product, you allow yourself plenty of headroom to adjust and learn as you go.

The fact is, tomorrow’s idea will always be better. Every day you’ll improve, and you’ll see what can be changed, adjusted and improved. Therefore, it is not about waiting to get it perfect before implementation, sharing or releasing, rather, it’s about getting a working version out the door and then refining over time.

When you wait too long to release a product or launch a service, you’ll become stagnant, lose momentum, and a once exciting idea will feel tired and difficult to implement.

Building something great is about being patient with the learning process and having risk-takers and nimble problem-solvers on your team to help keep the momentum moving.

Where is your focus?

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