Perfection is overrated

18 December 2023

I’ve been thinking a lot about perfection lately. Its relevance and its worth in our work.

Here are some thoughts that have been brewing in my head.

  1. The opposite of poor work is not perfect work.
  2. We tend to mix perfection with excellence or accuracy. In most cases, accuracy can be measured. Perfection cannot.
  3. Perfection cripples creativity. It is a big word. It intimidates us, and if it is perfection that we seek in an outcome we will drift further away from the objective of the project.
  4. Perfection is a paradox. The perfectionism goalpost keeps shifting because the more time we spend on a task, the more familiar and comfortable we become with it. We will then start looking for an improvement on the current state because in our head perfection is always better than the current state.
  5. Perfection is perception. There’s no formula to achieving it, therefore it only exists in the mind of its observer. There are many conditions and biases influencing that perception.
  6. “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” — Anne Lamott
  7. Perfection is rigid. Our work is contextual and dependent on so many external factors. Even if our work achieves perfection today, it might fail tomorrow.
  8. “I don’t believe in perfection. I try to design for the quality of flexibility and this means that you make spaces that adapt.” — Renzo Piano