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Kill Perfectionism Now
Kill Perfectionism Now
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“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali.

Let's be brutally honest, perfectionism is a potential black hole that will suck in your time, happiness and sanity. But wait, we hear you yell, can't it be useful? Well, we'd argue that there are times when striving for excellence or high standards can return amazing results, but such opportunities need to be selected intentionally, they are not the default. 

It's a fine line, but you likely know if you have perfectionist tendencies rather than just being that person who can strategically strive for excellence. One of the key differentiators is that perfectionists will be lost in the search for the perfect, rather than actually delivering on something useful or of value. Perfectionism actually becomes a blocker to success, not a driver to improve in such situations. More than a blocker, it can make your life miserable. 

So, if you're here for perfectionist tendencies, please dive into these models and frameworks we've curated to help you make the shift.

This Playbook includes the following sections, select a heading to jump to that section.
How do you challenge your deep seated need for perfectionism? We won't sugar coat it, if you've got the perfectionist bug bad, it will likely take some deep psychological reflection to shift it. That said, also use these ideas to challenge your thinking and assumptions.
Opportunity Cost

Perhaps a reality check around the cost of perfectionism is in order? Consider the Opportunity Cost of you spending those extra two days on that thing that is actually good enough now.
This concept taken from Japanese pottery is a surprisingly impactful place to start your journey to kill perfectionism. It encourages you to celebrate mistakes and embrace imperfectionism.
Return On Failure
Stop seeing failure as a problem, and start getting returns on the fails you are making with this powerful reframe.
First Principle Thinking
Keep it simple and get back to basics, by asking what is at the core of what you are trying to achieve, create or do.
Law of Diminishing Returns

Use this 'law' to remind yourself that more of a good thing will not necessarily return better results.
Some general approaches that you can apply in many contexts to shift your perfectionist approach.
Apply Inversion to stop trying to have a perfect day, and just focus on avoiding having a crappy one. The results will be surprisingly similar.
Parkinson’s Law
Don't just rely on your ability to stop, Timebox or use a Forcing Function, find out more about both by clicking into our Parkinson's Law summary.
Don't feel as though you only have one shot at success that you need to get absolutely right, instead provide yourself with a few options and avenues to move forward. This has risks though, as it might lead to spreading yourself to thin.
Use these practical approaches to iterate and deliver regular value drops.
Minimum Viable Product
Don't wait until you're done, deliver a Minimum Viable Product so you can gain feedback and improve with user input.
Lean Startup

Incorporating the MVP, this approach is about constantly iterating and improving your offer.
How do you decide on your next step and where to put your energy rather than focusing on trying to reach 'perfect' on that thing? Try these approaches.
The Pareto Principle
Understanding the Pareto Principle is knowing where to spend your energy for the biggest impact, and knowing that going beyond that will only deliver Diminishing Returns.
Surface Area of Luck
Want to create a break for that thing you're working on? Then be sure to get your message out into the world. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be seen so you can catch that lucky break.
MoSCoW Method

When you break down your list of requirements, what are your 'Must Haves'? Start to prioritise them with this simple, popular method.
Impact Effort Matrix
Have options about how you or your team are planning to spend your time? Throw them in this classic matrix to make some key trade offs.
Kano Model
Where should you just deliver the basics and where should you go that extra mile and strive for excellence? It's a tough question but the Kano Model is here to help solve it.
To finish off this list, how do you overcome perfectionism and make that next decision? Try these approaches.
High-Velocity Decisions

Finally, let's end with Amazon's approach to maintaining a start-up culture by embracing High-Velocity Decisions and a bias to action over perfectionism.
With links back to our earlier discussion of iterating your way forward, this approach that came from training fighter pilots will help you to take cycles of actions through complex environments.
Pugh Matrix

A useful way to take Satisificing through a practical, considered process. Use the Pugh Matrix to compare several options against your current state or baseline.
According to Simon's work on Bounded Rationality, the idea of a totally rational decision-making process is just that, an idea. In reality, you might be better Satisficing, by identifying your requirements and stopping at the first option that delivers.

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