Monday, June 9, 2008

The Good Enough Principle and the Good Enough Woman: First Post

I've recently come across a term that seems to be used in the tech field: the Principle of Good Enough (or the Good Enough Principle). On the Harvard Business Publishing Web Site, Scott D. Anthony references the principle, saying the following about the employment of the GEP in technical innovation:

"In a perfect world, companies would introduce pitch-perfect products that were easy to use and affordable. The reality is that there often is a tradeoff between basic performance, ease of use, and price.

"Established companies typically favor sacrificing ease of use and price in the name of performance. They fear the very term 'good enough,' because they think sacrificing raw performance will render their products inferior.

"Remember, though, that quality is relative. It is always worth asking: What would happen if you intentionally lowered raw performance in the name of simplicity, convenience, accessibility, or affordability? What new markets could you serve? What new consumption could you enable?

"Almost always, embracing “good enough” can open the door to new opportunities."

The italics are mine, and I've added the emphasis because I'm struck by how these lines (and all of them, really) apply to moms (and teachers, and students, and poets, and musicians, dads, etc.).

We have always been taught, "Do your best." "If it's worth doing, then it's worth doing well." But I once had a teacher who suggesting that "anything worth doing is worth doing badly." Some people would agree with him, especially when it come to things like fishing, golfing, and playing guitar. (But not parenting. We wouldn't want to do that badly.) But must we always try to be perfect?

We certainly want some people to be perfect (brain surgeons and bomb diffusers come to mind), but many of us work in areas that aren't so cut and dry (or so life and death). In that spirit, I am rejecting perfectionism, as a general principle, especially as it has given birth to the recent supermom movement, and I will start blogging to explain and give voice to this rejection and my support for the Good Enough Principle. More to come.


Sarah said...

Wonderful! I've added you to my Google Reader and I look forward to reading your thoughts. I have been crushed by perfectionism in motherhood and paralyzed by it in my dissertation, and I agree that embracing "good enough" is the answer to many of my problems.

penelope said...

Wonderful philosophy (I am applauding right now).

jlisaash said...

Ooooooooh. I LIKE this concept! If I meditate on it, I think I could give myself permission to write again...since yes, I had paralyzed myself writing and rewriting and was basically going insane because it wasn't "good enough" e.g. PERFECT. Fascinating. Thanks, my dear!

Merely Academic said...

I think "good enough" means exactly what it says: good enough for whatever your purposes were. Which means, of course, that we always have to figure out what our purposes were ...

But sometimes that helps. My purposes are, a loving, harmonious home, an active intellectual life, to maybe get a little regular exercise (the perfect keeps being the enemy of the good for me there though), and it would be nice if I weren't TOO far behind on my (expletive deleted) marking ...

But keeping the purposes in mind does keep me from worrying too much if the napkins match the candles, or if, indeed, we HAVE candles, or napkins.