Perfection promotes Problems!

There is something seriously wrong about our ideas for Perfection. Not sure how many are conscious or clear what to attempt, when they suggest or swear to be perfect! Also, be cautious to understand rationale behind the above caption – it does not imply “imperfection is to be inculcated”. This applies to companies, institutions, and individuals, as also work, hard and soft skills, products or services.

Implications of Perfection

  1. Efforts for 90% of perfection are doable with diligence and dedication; next 5% are harder; next 3% are harrowing; but balance 1.9% is herculean!
    Is there anything like 100% perfection? One does not know and let us leave balance 0.1% to aliens from outer space!
  2. It is time guzzler and hence, also goofs on good opportunities.
  3. It is not efficient and hence expensive.
  4. It requires lot of practice, patience and polishing, at the cost of productivity. Therefore, population of perfectionists cannot be large.
  5. Many desire and dream perfection; in practice very few can drive it!
    Therefore, it is devoid of popular appeal.
  6. Perfectionists are isolationists.
  7. Perfect bodies, beauties or businesses could prove to be bane, as these would attract lot of attention, rivals, imitators and hence, their real values would wane over time!

Be free from Defects, instead of being Perfect!

To be free from defects or flaws is a completely different paradigm as well as perspective than to be perfect. Drive to be free from defects takes away all problems associated with process of perfection!

Above has shown that to be perfect could be an ordeal; below would show that to be free from defect is ideal!

  • Process of getting perfection does not mandatorily target defects removal; whereas making it free from defects – be it product, system, service, character, competences, lifestyle or else, focuses fully on weeding away defects first!
    Former is analogous to “knowing what you should do, having little concern or knowledge of what you should not do” and hence, as a result, you would also do wrong things and then spend efforts to correct the same, which is wasteful! Latter is equivalent to learning first what you should not do; so what you do would automatically be free from flaws and hence most productive.
  • Definition of defects depends upon “functional requirements” in case of objects/ activities and “what creates good impact on others and self”, in case of personal behavior/characteristics.
  • When you remove all defects or keep it free from defects, you would find that resultant output is highly functional, acceptable, suitable and economical.
  • When an object or subject becomes defect free, it becomes simple and beautiful! Further attempts to bring what we term as perfection, actually make it complicated and starts spoiling its elegance and élan! From that stage onwards, output starts to plateau and time/costs start to soar.
  • Efforts should, then, be directed at innovations or variations to create different versions or flavors. That would be most efficient and economically sustainable!

Let us look at 2 simple examples to explain relevance of above:

By removing all impurities from drinking water, we make it potable. Further attempts to perfectly clean it, would remove minerals and that would not be good for health!

2nd example – Head of an organization is preparing communication on company performance for employees. Defect free communication would be one, which would be simple to understand, short to digest and sweet to appreciate.

Instead, if he vies to make it perfect by putting all performance data, graphs, explanations for up and down sides and so on, such communication would no doubt have depth and details; but consume lot of time and man hours to prepare and would turn out to be complex. In most cases, it cannot be communicated transparently and effectively, and would leave audience guessing and gasping to grasp!

For the Future Perfect…

The mandate is clear:

  1. Redefine “Perfection”.
  2. Efforts for perfection should cease, once all defects or flaws are removed.
  3. Any extra effort is like a creamy layer at the expense of volume (of efforts), without creating value.
  4. Instead, such extra efforts should be directed for innovations, new creations and versions.
  5. Objects and subjects, body and being become the best and beautiful, when these are free from flaws.
    These are also, then, exquisite, elegant, efficient, affordable and sustainable!
  6. Attempts to make things 100% perfect could push you to perils!
  7. Nature’s laws demand minor (not major) degree of imperfections and imbalances. This is what has made whole universe in a dynamic state. It also brings fizz and fervor in our life!
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17 Comments
  • Kaushik Roy Chowdhury
    Mar 13,2013 at 7:33 am

    Dear Murli,

    After going through your article and a quick scan through all the reader’s views, I have to say this:
    There is no human being that exists on this earth who is perfect. I believe the same holds good for objects (living, non living). I also remember an age old adage “To err is human” and it stems from the fact that we are fallible (in whatever degrees it may be). To try to achieve perfection is another matter but looks like approaching the speed of light by any man made vehicle or to actually reach infinity in mathematical terms. However, as you have suggested that we can aim to be defect free, looks a bit more practical. Although as the title says “Perfection promotes problems”, I believe it actually means trying to reach perfection poses problems. The problems also stems from the fact that though we will never be fully perfect if we think we have achieved it, it will give us a false sense of pride as well arrogance. So in summary, though we should strive to achieve perfection, it should only be a guiding factor for us to become excellent in whatever we do or stand for. It also should include self introspection from time to time as situations and events are our best teachers.

    • Mar 13,2013 at 4:39 pm

      Many thanks for orchestrating your views very well.

      What is very true is that to be perfect is problematic; but not making efforts towards perfection is a bigger problem. We need to make efforts with focus on becoming defect free and then stop such efforts once we get there. That is a key to our successes and efficiency.

    • Mar 13,2013 at 4:39 pm

      Many thanks for orchestrating your views very well.

      What is very true is that to be perfect is problematic; but not making efforts towards perfection is a bigger problem. We need to make efforts with focus on becoming defect free and then stop such efforts once we get there. That is a key to our successes and efficiency.

  • Murli Lohia
    Nov 24,2012 at 6:11 pm

    Transferred from LinkedIn
    Rajendra Babtiwale has sent you a message.
    Date: 11/23/2012

    Subject: RE: Perfection promotes Problems!

    Good article sir!

    • Nov 24,2012 at 6:12 pm

      Thanks a lot for your feedback!

  • Rudra
    Nov 20,2012 at 7:52 pm

    As they say, there will be no value of good, if bad doesn’t exist. Similarly, nobody can be 100% perfect… there has to be some imperfect people or partly perfect people, just to maintain the balance of nature, isn’t it?

    Agree with your statement “When an object or subject becomes defect free, it becomes simple and beautiful!” – this will make life much easier.

    The trend you’ve set in the way you conducted all our Communication meetings reflects in your second example and reflects in a contented manner!! 🙂

    Keep going!

    • Nov 21,2012 at 4:47 pm

      Many thanks for your commendable comments!

      It is true that it is not easy for anyone to be 100% perfect and if by any chance, one becomes 100% perfect, he/she would no longer be easy as an individual!! Survival of our world is contingent to some degree of imperfection.

  • Roshan Pais
    Nov 20,2012 at 12:30 pm

    Perfection is in physical terms, ‘Accuracy’ and being free from defects is akin to ‘Precision’. Precision and Accuracy have to go hand-in-hand, otherwise the effort will be both meaningless and futile.

    Perfection is a moving target since it’s aspects vary with the requirements of the one (or the group) who accepts the situation or object as ‘perfect’.

    Meaningful, intermediate goals that help us achieve defect-free performance combined with a process to regularly recognise the ever changing attributes of perfection are required to go hand-in-hand, just like Precision and Accuracy.

    Perfection cannot be an attribute of a single individual or object or situation, rather its a resonance of various factors that elevate the individual, object or situation towards a perfect state of being. Hence even if it is achieved, it will exist for a very brief moment as our dynamic universe changes.

    The article is excellent in that it provides the right inputs to ensure that useful progress is made in achievable steps, akin to each measured step on the way up Mount Everest rather than freezing into inaction while evaluating all aspects of the ultimate goal.

    • Nov 20,2012 at 10:26 pm

      Many thanks for your detailed views! Let me share some more thoughts.

      I am not sure whether we can call perfection as accuracy. Accuracy comes, as make the thing free from flaws or defects. Let take a very simple example – “define what is productivity”. One can give the answer in just one sentence, which creates correct understanding in short and simple way. That would make it free from flaws and hence, accurate too. Other way is to give examples to justify your answer (though question does not say that you have to do that) and try to create perfect understanding. In other words, perfection is always associated with such additional efforts/attempts beyond what is good enough. As a matter of fact, last para of your comments superbly imply that!

      • Roshan Pais
        Nov 21,2012 at 5:52 pm

        Dear Sir,

        This is great learning for me. I would say that your ability to keep it simple is perfection in itself. It implies that it takes a very experienced and practical leader to take decisions about the SMART goals to set for a team or an individual in order to ensure that the team or individual can achieve defect free performance.

        • Nov 21,2012 at 10:16 pm

          Your comments and views are very inspirational! I am thankful for the same.

          I am only making efforts to be free from flaws.

  • Vikram Patil
    Nov 17,2012 at 11:32 pm

    I really liked the sentence: “Any extra effort is like a creamy layer at the expense of volume (of efforts), without creating value.” Many a times, persoally and professionally, I have fallen prey to this value-less-creamy-layer-efforts. Worst part is inability to realize this loss of value and associated opportunity cost due to short term satisfaction generated by those “perfectionist” efforts.

    • Nov 18,2012 at 2:11 pm

      Thanks a lot! Your observations and real life example are very commendable!!

      Let me share my understanding of what really happens to most is such cases – once we make the thing/work in hand “defect free”, its beauty is at climax. Often, we don’t realize this and continue making our further efforts (what you have termed as perfectionist efforts) in the hope or hunger to make it better and better. But then, after climax , what is it? You can remain at the same point or come down! So, in very case, such efforts are meaningless or even damaging!

  • Pankaj
    Nov 17,2012 at 2:27 pm

    Well put. Just as there can be no perfect decision making – only “satificing” it is important as you have suggested to do just enough to make the output fit for purpose.

    • Nov 17,2012 at 10:30 pm

      Your comments are commendable! One thing – when output fits the purpose, its performance peaks out and further attempts to improve would only drag it down!!

  • Shashank Pise
    Nov 17,2012 at 11:02 am

    Dear Sir,
    The message you are trying to give is clear. So even if you are a bit imperfect its accepted as far as you are defect free. Although seems to be a bitter truth, its the practical mantra in recent times. While reading the articles, the images of all the perfectionist people from various field were appearing in front of me, whoare famous/successfull after great efforts. But still one question is continoulsy hammering my mind i.e. Shouldn’t we at all strive to be perfect? Even if we are ready to spend more time achieving a certain time?

    • Nov 17,2012 at 12:21 pm

      I am impressed with your valuable views!

      You can off course strive to be perfect; but then don’t be surprised with the problems associated with that!! Post lists problems, which are only some out of many more. Please evaluate would you lose or gain by doing so. Simply because we have been taught to aspire for perfection by our teachers, Dad, Mom, media and many more, that does not mean it is sacrosanct.

      As regards your images of perfect people, who are also famous and successful, how are we sure that they have not been free from problems listed? If they are or were free from problems, then to my knowledge they were just free from flaws and some one could have created misconception in our mind by calling those people as Perfect!

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