When you or your people are getting ready to start a new project or launch a new product or initiate a new change, what is the primary emotion that you (or they) experience? Exactly! Fear.
And what increases that sense of fear in most people? For most of us, it’s an unrealistic standard we expect we won’t meet (i.e. we’re pretty sure we—or they, or it—won’t be perfect). For example,
* Joe knows he ought to follow up with Janie within the first 24 hours after a networking meeting … but he doesn’t. Why? Because he’s not sure what to say or how she’ll respond (in other words, he’s afraid the follow-up call won’t be “perfect”).
* Or, ABC restaurant wants to change its menu dramatically to focus on a different demographic. They’ve talked about it for six months now, but still haven’t pulled the trigger. Why? Because they’re afraid they won’t get it “right,” right out of the gate.
* Or, Mohammed knows that the current CRM (customer relationship management) system is broken. It’s been terrible for years. Yet, he still won’t change the CRM out for a better solution. Why? Because he’s afraid it won’t be “perfect” on day one.
In other words, you and I are our own worst enemies whenever we set ourselves up with an unrealistic expectation (i.e. to be perfect—especially the first time out).
So, what’s the solution? How can we eliminate or reduce the fear we normally experience so we (or our people) are more likely to take action faster?
I. Change the Goal
The answer is to change your goal from perfection to learning—or, to put it another way, from trying to be a “Perfect Business” to being an “Iterative Business.”
Since no one on planet earth is perfect, setting perfection as the standard is self-defeating. Furthermore, since no one gets everything right on the first try, setting ourselves up for a standard that no one can achieve, is ridiculous.
At its core, fear is created when we have a negative expectation about a future event (Note: fear is, by definition, never based on what is, only what might be. If the thing we feared was actually true then we’d be in pain or we’d be angry or disappointed, etc. But, fear is not about reality—it’s about an expectation that something in the future won’t turn out the way we’d like it to turn out).
So, when we set ourselves up with an unrealistic standard (i.e. perfection), we’re actually increasing the likelihood of a negative outcome which is why we feel “justified” in our negative belief.
But what if you were to change that expectation from perfection and getting it right, right out of the gate to getting something “imperfect” out into the world so you can learn from your customers/clients/members/attenders/prospects/leads etc? What would that do to your expectations?
Exactly! They’d be lowered. In other words, if your goal was simply to get something out into the world so you could learn from it and then iterate in response to that feedback, then all of your efforts and those of your people would have a much lower bar to entry. Reduce the standard, reduce the fear.
So, what would it look like in your life and in your business, if you simply saw all of your business as an iterative process, not a perfect one? What if you no longer made the standard, “it has to be perfect,” to “it has to be good enough to test.” What would that do to your business?
II. Live the Iterative Way
This is one lesson programmers can teach business owners and entrepreneurs like you and me. No programmer, in his or her right mind, thinks that any software program will be perfect on day one. Their goal is simply to get a version out to people that they can test.
If you’re lucky enough, you get to test out a beta version. Based on your feedback and others, they iterate and make changes. What they originally thought might be useful, may not be. Things they thought people wouldn’t want, they may want. Directions they thought were obvious, may not be. Etc.
Based on these “learnings,” software programmers go back and fix the code (i.e. they iterate). They get beta v. 2 out. Go through the same process and then get beta v. 3 out.
When the software gets released, it gets released as version 1 (which presupposes that there will be other versions—i.e. that this version isn’t perfect).
In other words, if you want to speed up the process of getting a product or service out or a project complete or marketing campaign off the drawing board, take a look at the world of programmers—and learn from them.
Remove the “pursuit of perfection,” from your vocabulary. Focus instead on the “pursuit of learning,” and you’ll radically increase the speed at which you and your people get things done.
Trying to get something perfect the first time out is intimidating. But trying to get something out that’s good enough to get feedback on—that’s not an intimidating.
Moreover, by getting something out sooner, you’ll get valuable feedback BEFORE you’ve invested too much time and money. There are few things more frustrating that trying to create the “perfect” product or event, only to discover that no one really wants that thing that you’ve just spent the last twelve months creating.
So, if you want you and your business to get more big things done faster, my encouragement would be to change your standard and to adopt a more learning and iterative mindset to you business. You’ll be amazed at how much more gets done this year as soon as you do (plus, it’ll be a whole lot more fun!).
To your accelerated success!
P.S. If you have some other ideas about how to speed up what gets done in your business, make sure you add them below in the comments section (or click here >> if you’re reading this by RSS or email)