THE BLOG

Perfectionism - Strive for Something Better!

13/02/2015 15:13 GMT | Updated 13/04/2015 10:59 BST

You would expect that working for a brand design agency I was a true believer in Perfectionism. And I still am....sometimes.

As the CEO I expect the experience of our agency to be perfect - I obsess over all the light bulbs working, lovely flowers, and beautiful crockery, the right biscuits and comfortable chairs.

We strive to make the service we offer perfect - anticipatory, responsive, collaborative, intelligent, friendly, and so on.

Most importantly the work, the output has to be perfect - in design every little detail counts - get one thing wrong and you can lose the beauty, power and ultimately the key message of a brand or product.

And of course, like any business leader, I want perfect results - brand design that achieves all its objectives, grows brands and delivers value.

And so as a branding agency we are pretty much pre - programmed to obsess over the detail, to strive for the ultimate, to do everything we can to get what we do absolutely right...put simply to be perfect.

And that is all well and good - but when it comes to driving our own business forward too often we are held back by our desire for perfection. It makes us afraid of getting things wrong, afraid of failure.

It's hard to be perfect when you are doing something new - inevitably we will make mistakes. And so our fixation with always being faultless can stop us trying new things, stop us experimenting and taking risks.

And beyond that it slows us down, and means we risk being late to market with new thinking and new offers. In today's world things are changing so fast there isn't always time to feel that one is perfectly equipped to deal with an issue, or to solve a problem.

Like many other businesses, we've had to learn to embrace a bit of uncertainty- everything around us is changing so quickly we have to change the way we do things to match. Clients and brands live in an 'always on' world, one where they have to respond in real time. We have to be able to match them, develop new offers to compliment the core of what we do, and find new ways of working to meet their new needs.

So we have had to learn a new mantra in some aspects of our business - to live life in beta. It's not always a comfortable place for a group of people trained to obsess over the detail and seek perfection.

As we move the business into new territories and as we establish new ways of working we've had to learn to stop obsessing over getting it absolutely right before we do anything, and to accept that sometimes it will take failing a few times, learning from those mistakes and just getting on with it and make things happen. If we always waited until we were flawless - until we knew exactly how to do what we need to do, we would miss endless opportunities and never get anything done. Better to try and learn from not getting it right, than not to try at all for fear of not being perfect.

In my experience, the trick is as far as possible to live life in beta, to try the new things out on internal projects - make the mistakes on our own projects so that we can then get it right for clients. So our team have learned to live by that mantra when we need to in order to move the business forward - for example the new thinking we launched last year got pushed out in an identity we are about to change, because if we had waited for the new identity we would still be waiting to launch our new offer.

And let's face it even this article is perhaps more beta than it might be - I could spend another hour obsessing over the details and finding more anecdotes -it's always possible to make it better - but then I'd never get it out there!

Perhaps rather than perfectionism as a leader of my business I have had to move to practising the art of divine discontent - always striving for something better rather than simply waiting for everything to be perfect.