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One of my first managers once told me, "The perfect is the enemy of the good." That saying has stuck with me to this day. Essentially, it means that if you waste too much time trying to perfect your work, you can end up being less productive. It is better to do three things well than one thing perfectly. In a recent two-part article, I covered The Top Twelve Fallacies That Get In The Way of Organizational Performance. Number one on that list was the mistaken belief that there is only one right answer. All too often managers get stuck trying to find the "perfect" answer to a problem, when they should simply be making a decision.

There is No One Right Answer

As a manager, you obviously need to gather information to make decisions. However, the always-present risk is that you may be tempted to gather far more information than you need, or consult more broadly than is necessary. Delaying your decision in the hopes of the perfect solution may well end up wasting time and efforts. It's important to understand that there is no one perfect solution. Rather than waiting, consulting, or trying to build a consensus - it is far better to make a decision, which you can then adapt and modify as necessary.

The Dangers of Indecision

Indecision doesn't just inhibit your ability to be effective; it can adversely affect how others view you. In a Business Insider article I recently read, an episode of Shark Tank was covered - a television program that gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their business ideas to potential investors. In the episode covered by the article, two young entrepreneurs presented a wearable technology that they had invented. Multiple investors made competing offers to invest in their product, however the young entrepreneurs waffled so much in making a decision, the investors all withdrew their offers. In wanting to secure the perfect offer, the entrepreneurs took too long to make a decision, and in turn the investors all lost faith in their ability to manage a business.

Decisive managers project confidence and earn trust from their teams by making timely and effective decisions. Chances are, your ability to diagnose complex problems and choose from a multitude of solutions is a large part of why you were hired as a manager in the first place. In addition to your everyday, operational decisions, you will also be called upon to make big, strategic decisions. If it were easy to make these big decisions, they wouldn't be on your desk. The fact that a decision has been left for you to make means that it requires your unique diagnostic capabilities. And the fact that your manager appointed you to this position means that she or he has trust in your ability to make the best decision possible.

Instead of trying to find the perfect answer, trust in your own capabilities. Don't let perfectionism get in the way of your ability to make a decision. Strive for excellence instead of perfection.


Dwight Mihalicz

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