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Perfectionism

What is a blog for if not to put things into that you wanted to shout at the radio...?

So, I caught part of a short article about perfectionists and working with them.  To my mind it left out the most important thing about the majority of perfectionists (or, as I like to think of them, 'sodding perfectionists'.)

This is that in order to be an *effective* perfectionist, you need to a) know what you are doing and either b) be able to do it really well OR c) have a clear vision of what you consider perfection to be and how it is to be achieved and be able to communicate that, and preferably, measure it.

If you don't know what you are doing or how to do it or what effect it will have, then demanding endless change is not the pursuit of perfection.  It is random flailing without a clear objective or measure.   Also, the idea that one must 'get it right' assumes that there is only one 'right' available, and only one measure by which it can be judged.  This is rarely the case.

I reckon at least half the people who say 'can we just change this - I'm afraid I am a bit of a perfectionist' are misguided.  They are not perfectionists, not even a bit.  They are flailers.  They have mistaken random movement for progress.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
smirnoffmule
2nd Dec, 2008 11:13 (UTC)
Indeed. Sounds extremely much like my boss. Usually her flailing will commence five minutes before home time, unfortunately.
bunn
3rd Dec, 2008 20:21 (UTC)
Oh, I hate that. I had one client who *always* phoned at 5pm on a Friday. Though at least he was someone who did mostly know what he was doing. Thankfully he's been promoted and no longer plagues me on Friday evenings.
(Deleted comment)
bunn
3rd Dec, 2008 20:22 (UTC)
Communication failure can usually be resolved without too much difficulty: the real problem comes if the supposed perfectionist doesn't really understand what they are trying to perfect, yet still insists on trying to micromanage it.
philmophlegm
2nd Dec, 2008 16:13 (UTC)
Remember that certain terribly posh golf club I used to audit? The secretary there was a 'perfectionist', and said it was down to his career in the navy (he had been a commander). What it meant in practice was that he had very little idea about basic bookkeeping and absolutely no concept of materiality. As in "I don't care that the stock of Kirsch is overstated by two bottles, and neither does anyone else. However, I do care that your trial balance doesn't. Balance that is."
bunn
3rd Dec, 2008 20:24 (UTC)
Oh lord, people who don't get the bottom line. You've heard me rant on that topic. Will moving this X from left to right make you sell more stuff? No? THEN WHY SPEND MONEY DOING IT? grrr.
kargicq
2nd Dec, 2008 17:53 (UTC)
Good rant!
bunn
3rd Dec, 2008 20:25 (UTC)
I wished that radio were a more interactive medium at the time, but I suppose if it were I wouldn't have had a chance to think it out so well!
helflaed
3rd Dec, 2008 13:52 (UTC)
I suspect that true perfectionists will not describe themselves as such, because they will never ever think that they are good enough, whereas those who describe themselves as perfectionists just... aren't.
bunn
3rd Dec, 2008 20:26 (UTC)
Good point. Though in many contexts, I would quibble with the very concept of an achievable perfection.

There's something Yodaesque there about there being no try, but I can't quite work it out.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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