Don’t Get to Perfect Too Soon

Getting to perfect too soon reduces the available space for collaboration. Perfection signals that the current effort is good enough or refined enough, and that the opportunity for input, direction, crazy ideas, left-field thinking, new ways of looking at a problem and the like has gone. For instance, documents without any spelling mistakes that are beautifully printed in full colour – and yet called “draft” – are just a daft way of trying to engage others. The form of the idea is too perfect, creating a barrier to collaboration and interaction and input and argument. Something less perfect would be more perfect to create a space for collaboration.

Open questions, fuzzy lines, loads of question marks and crossed out words, ideas and thoughts signal a lack of presumptuous final clarity that engages the mind and heart, opening the pathways for contribution. For having a say. For providing your two cents. For saying let’s go back to the beginning and ask the why / where / when / who / how questions again (and again) (and again). For reaching out to someone different to ask for their input. For touching base with someone beyond the immediate team to seek their perspective. For scheduling another whiteboard session, another Post-It Note wall attack, another long walk to figure out the relationships, driving rationale, intermediate steps and necessary resources of people, activity and energy.

To create a space for collaboration, think:

  • Handwritten notes, not manifestos beautifully laid out and produced on the new colour laser printer.
  • Hastily drawn whiteboard brain dumps with different colours and handwriting styles, not the printed version from a mind mapping app.
  • Meetings with an intent to think and work together, not a minute-by-minute agenda that makes the whole thing presupposed, pre-planned, and an exercise in rubber-stamping the dream of another.

Less perfection. Less presumption. More space to really work together. Greater vulnerability in openness to new ideas. More trust in motive and intent. Better collaboration.

That would be perfect.

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