No such thing as 'perfect'

Portia wrote about Perfect is Poison earlier this week:

Perfect doesn’t exist. Perfect is something we aspire to, it’s elusive by design.

Striving for perfection is a trap for many organisations: the organisation becomes more and more adapted to its context, ultimately fitting perfectly (having found the best practices and the optimal way of working). This also removes all variety from the system however, making it less and less adaptable. This leaves the organisation very vulnerable to changes in its context – and its context will definitely change. This a problem in many Routine cultures.

Assuming a stable environment for IT projects is dangerous: projects are in continuous flux and lots of stuff changes. IT projects (agile or not) are complex systems (at least the ones that aspire to make a difference). A project changes its context and is changed by its context.

If you look at it in this way, there’s actually no such thing as perfect. Maybe the organisation can be perfect for a moment, fitting its context, but then the world moves on, stuff changes, and the state of perfection is over.

Maybe we should not even talk about continuous improvement, because that presupposes you’re improving towards some goal. Managing a complex system is instead a continuous balancing act – dancing with the system, while learning more and more along the way.

Picture credits: Dancing © by pedrosimoes7

One Response to “No such thing as ‘perfect’”

  1. Matt Says:

    Perfection is impossible, since everyone’s idea of perfection is different. Even when we “agree” on a vision, not everyone will always interpret statements the same way, since most language is imprecise and heavily influenced by context.