December 27, 2008

Good and Best – very close or enemies?

We have heard two popular phrases - ‘Perfect is the enemy of the Good’ and also ‘Good is the enemy of Best’. As with everything in life, there seems to be a contradiction here… And typically these provoke thoughts  There is a lot written about these phrases in books, commentaries, blogs, etc… - I thought I could share some of my first hand experience.

Having spent more than 10 years in the Supply Chain optimization domain, I want to optimize everything – from time to resources to my actions. In the last few months, I remember so many days that I ‘thought’ of posting something on the blog, but making sure that it is the best topic and the best ideas actually paralyzed my efforts! It was an experience to realize that if excessive focus on the best and optimality goes to the extent of stopping you from doing any work – then it may be better to just start doing things.

I also remembered a small story (Centipede's Dilemma) in which a centipede was about to eat a spider and the spider asks it how will it co-ordinate the movement of its legs. The centipede started thinking about its action that was natural and innate to it – but this thought actually crippled it and the spider got away. Although, thinking may be required; but we need to understand the difference between thoughts that result in action and thoughts that paralyze actions.

At the same time, if we become complacent about things and be satisfied with ‘good’, the best will keep eluding us. Striving for perfection is as essential as continuing with actions.

A fine balance I guess – that needs to be perfected!