Is Something Better Than Nothing?

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On January 25, 2016

Is-something-better-than-nothing?I recently read an article that urged businesses to get something into the hands of their clients. The basic premise is that many times, something is better than nothing. The author was quick to point out that there are times when making sure it’s right is essential.

If you manufacture medical equipment it had better be right. If you’re building a home, “almost” right angles aren’t good enough. Often, however, what your clients need is something that useable, and helpful, and reliable—not perfect.

That doesn’t mean you settle for sloppy work, poor procedures, or a lack of quality control. And it doesn’t mean you stop improving what you do. But sometimes getting something good out there is better than waiting for something “perfect.”

Here’s an example from the music industry that illustrates the point. In 1997 the band Guns & Roses began work on an album that was supposed to be released in 1999. The band’s front man, Axl Rose, was never quite satisfied with the album, and kept tweaking and perfecting the album for 10 years (while essentially firing the whole band in the process). By the time the album came out in 2008 it had cost more than $13 million to produce—making it the most expensive rock album in history.

By that time, the market had moved on. Nobody cared that the album was perfect (and it still wasn’t). Although it had been long anticipated, reaction to it was pretty mediocre. The delay meant that the band missed a great opportunity.

What does that mean for your business? Are you working on something that has a window of opportunity that you can’t afford to miss? Can you afford to wait until what you have is perfect?

The answer depends to a large degree on your customers. If you have clients who need and demand perfection, you can’t afford to give them less than what they expect. But if you have a product or service that adequately meets their needs now (and can continue to be improved) does it make sense to continue to tweak it while the window of opportunity narrows?

I’d love to know how you resolve the question of “How good is good enough?” and how you decide when something is better than nothing. Leave me a note or a question in the comments section below.