My Agile Life: Review Lets You Get It Right; Review Lets You Let Go Of Perfection

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More on my use of “Agile” and Scrum┬áin my life!

Perfection is the nemesis of success. The Perfect isn’t just the enemy of the good – sometimes the good is the enemy of ever accomplishing anything. Trying to get everything right can kill you, and sometimes even trying to get it really good is a barrier.

Sometimes you just have to complete something, review it, and improve it or do it again. Reviews are what let you get things done right – not trying to be perfect (which is not the same as being competent).

I learned this in my Agile Life efforts in, of all things – cleaning.

Cleaning is a regular effort – Business As Usual if you want to use bizspeak. It’s also something that may not always go perfect, from a difficult stain to not having a box to throw junk in. It’s also hard to get right as there’s always something else to do if you want to get obsessive.

So I had to do some cleaning and encountered a difficult issue in, of all things, the shower – nasty little stain. I didn’t have the proper cleaner, it seemed ridiculous to run out and buy it for five minutes work, and . . . I let it go. I’d get the stain cleaner at my next grocery run and get it next week.

By accepting yes, this stain wasn’t going to be a disaster, I avoided a half hour of running around for five minutes work I did the next week. Plus I learned to keep certain cleaning supplies on hand.

An agile way to do things – learn and improve and don’t sweat every detail. Delivering, review, and processing what you learn means you get better and waste less time.

Now cleaning is kind of a ridiculous example, but consider other places this applies:

  • If you’re writing something there’s only so right it’s going to be. That’s what editors, pre-readers, and just regular improvement will bring.
  • If you’re decorating the apartment do not think you’ll get it right the first time. Do your best and review it.
  • If you’re working on a web page and a photographer is late maybe you can make due with current photos – or what they sent you.

Finally, I’d note that if you’re doing something regularly – updating a website, cooking, etc. this is a REALLY good place to learn to let it go. Things that might not be perfect can get a bit more perfected next run.

I’d refer to the 10th Agile principle here: “Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.”

(By the way I do plenty of books for coaching people to improve in various areas, which may also help you out!)

– Steve