Good Enough, Move On
by Tammy Moore
GEMO (Good Enough, Move On) - the art of knowing when good is good enough, balanced with the critical thinking to determine when and where to invest in better than good.
Somewhere along our career paths, there is an expectation to solve problems. While a mechanic can connect a vehicle to a diagnostic machine to call attention to problems, she must still use critical thinking to further understand if the problem is isolated, its impact on other systems, and the best way to fix it and prevent the problem from recurring in the future. Nearly every discipline - from medicine and social science, to high tech, manufacturing, finance and marketing - demands employees to discern how, and how much, where and when, to apply one’s expertise in order to progress. And so goes the daily grind of individual careers.
Working in marketing and communications, ebbing and flowing with the changing needs of clients, the art of GEMO is essential. It’s not only a survival tactic to manage high pressure, high volume work; it’s a way to build trust, credibility, and leadership.
Without GEMO, two main problems arise:
- Spending precious time and energy battling perfection; or
- Minimizing the work - i.e. approaching with a transactional, versus transformational, lens.
Perfection is an individual ideal. And therefore, we can never truly realize perfection; it’s a futile effort that can monopolize valuable time and resources. Something that appears perfect (flawless) to me, is most definitely not perfect for someone else. The idea isn’t to provide the “perfect” solution with our work, but the “best” solution for the problem we’re trying to solve.
Perfectionism has the potential to overtake the simplest tasks, causing us to overthink or obsess about matters that are not primary in focus. Be leery of these characteristics that resemble perfectionism in the workplace:
- Hesitancy, or difficulty, working with others. Perfectionists often hold firm beliefs about who, and how, the work can be accomplished (typically with strict limitations).
- Editing edits. A purest perfectionist sometimes cannot control themselves from persistent, and constant, tweaking. If you’ve worked with someone who loves to do this, you know that the outcomes start to look… well… the same. Ask yourself, “Do the edits make this better or simply different?”
- Overdelivering. Some perfectionists operate under the belief that more is better. In reality, more is sometimes simply … more. If you’ve ever delivered a glossy, 52-page deck to a client whose eyes glaze over around page three, and later learn they were looking for an executive summary, you may have misjudged their expectations of “good.”
- Buzzkill in brainstorms. Perfectionists can drain a lively brainstorm discussion with an insistence that some ideas are plain bad and others are clearly winning options. Perfectionists can sometimes limit exploring, and learning, with a premature decision on a “right” solution. Team members who struggle embracing 'no bad idea' moments may not be fit for discussions aimed at creatively exploring as many options as possible.
Transaction versus transformation
There’s a story about a healthcare agency that did a company-wide assessment of patient care. The agency set out to learn the dynamics of where, and by whom, exceptional care was provided and also where there were gaps in satisfaction across the organization. The survey was distributed to a cross section of patients over a period of time, and the results were delivered to a review committee.
The review committee was surprised to learn that the most mentioned employee in the survey - lauded for his exceptional, and attentive care for patients - was not a physician or a nurse or anyone else with a medical degree. The person in the organization who received the most direct accolades from patients was a night shift janitor.
This is an example of someone who was able to see his job not only for the transactions that must occur - in this case cleaning patient rooms and hallways - but for the difference he could make in the lives of those he encountered in his work (transformation).
Rare is a job that does not allow room for transformation. Whether through customer successes, connections with co-workers, vendors or industry experts, nearly every job provides opportunities for transformational delivery of services, ideas, and knowledge. While this may not occur daily in some roles, the collective potential is likely present.
In order for GEMO to be effective, employees must understand how to shift focus from their own perceptions and expectations to those of the customer or client. This requires practice in identifying, and maintaining, an eye on the project scope. In other words, the only way to know when it’s appropriate to say Good Enough, Move On, is to be intimately familiar with the client’s expectations and the specific work at hand. Exploring these questions with the client and your internal team can help ensure you’ll know good when you get there:
- What is the ideal outcome?
- Do we have a shared understanding of the ideal outcome?
- What steps are needed to get to the outcome? (Or, what work is within scope and out of scope?)
- Have we done this work before? (can we relate to other work versus building from scratch?) Are there other efficiencies possible?
- Have we painted a picture of success for the client and customer (in order to manage their expectations of the ideal outcome).
In order to exercise GEMO, the client and partner must resist temptation and self-gratification that leads to over tweaking or getting so far out of scope on the project that the outcome doesn’t resemble what you set out to do in the first place. Small, intentional steps will help you drive to good and once you get there, you can discern if great is desired or needed.
GEMO isn’t a claim to mediocrity. Quite the opposite, actually. GEMO is about building precision around planning, resources, and efficiency. There’s a time and place for good and it takes practice to know it when you see it… and to identify when it’s enough. And that’s great.