“Done is better than perfect”


“Done is better than perfect.” – Guiding principle of Facebook

Similarly, sometimes the best is the enemy of the good.

Delaying action until something is perfect (for example, perfectly understood or perfectly expressed) can slow momentum and squander energy and goodwill.

Knowing when something is “good enough,” subject to future iterations of improvement, is a hallmark of skillful leadership.

What is your experience with applying the idea that “done is better than perfect”?

9 Responses to ““Done is better than perfect””

  1. 1 Peggy Dickerson January 27, 2016 at 7:49 am

    I have long appreciated and often refer to your “satisficing” principle when mentoring principals. Though I still struggle with practicing the principle in my own life, your guiding light has often been a source of reflection and increased ability to “move forward.”

  2. 2 Jamie January 27, 2016 at 8:27 am

    This is something I wish I had learned long ago. My book wouldn’t have been finished without my writing coach reminding of it. As a former school principal I look back and think of time spent “perfecting” an email, observation or schedule and now recognize that I was in the pursuit of perfection at the expense of more important uses of my time.

    • 3 Dennis Sparks January 27, 2016 at 9:09 am

      I appreciate your perspectives and comments, Peggy and Jamie. You’re probably familiar with the old joke: How do you spell “perfection”? P-A-R-A-L-Y-S-I-S. Knowing when to strive for perfection and when to declare “good enough” is definitely part of the artistry of leadership. And it is an important distinction in all realms of our lives as well…

  3. 4 Deanne Moore January 27, 2016 at 9:40 am

    This is so very true for me. As a graduate student, I find myself writing and rewriting papers. Sometimes I just have to let it go as it won’t ever be perfect. This message is super timely for me! Thanks.

  4. 6 Natalie Prytuluk January 27, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    This really resonates with me. Sometimes we simply need to embrace the chaos and dive in. We can never anticipate all the outcomes of trying something or doing something, and process is messy. From the messiness can emerge something beautiful, and something better than we could ever imagine. I struggle with my perfectionist side and wanting to have everything perfectly in its place, but I also know that to move things forward requires the courage to just do it.

  5. 8 Lenore Cohen January 27, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    I am not a perfectionist. I have not had that burden. I have led several Masters Level programs where perfectionists abound. As I work with the beginning teachers in those programs my colleague and I had a mantra, “done is good”. There is too much work in teaching and way too little time to do everything. I think that the learning that takes place when I reflect upon “how would I do things differently the next time”, is the place where my true learning occurs, not in doing it perfectly the first time.

    • 9 Dennis Sparks January 28, 2016 at 8:06 am

      It’s great to hear from you, Lenore. Make a reasonable good plan (or whatever) + try it out + reflect on the results of your effort + try out what you learned + repeat this process of learning by doing = continuous improvement. (That’s my long version of what you said so succinctly.)

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