When “Good Enough” Isn’t
One of my photographers posted this comparison shot on LinkedIn last week with the comment, “This hits the nail on the head.” He’s frustrated because his competition these days is anyone with a cell phone or digital camera (that would be everyone). Not to mention the trend toward using Stock photography. The same stuff you see coming-and-going on every billboard, greeting card, ad and website. For him, it’s starting to get a bit ugly out there.
A friendly competitor once told me his biggest fear was that one day, “good enough would be good enough.”
I sense a lot of that attitude now. We’re all so busy doing more with less that sometimes, “good enough” just has to do.
But I’m never comfortable with it.
The recession took a lot of the fun out of dreaming big, taking risks, trying new things. It made everyone just a little more careful, a little more hesitant to think too far, for too long. The day ahead had enough challenges of its own.
I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in over the past six years where the client or prospect started the discussion with, “We need X,Y,Z…but we don’t have any money.”
(I think they were hoping I would see it as a challenge).
Just imagine what one could do on the job with unlimited time, dollars, hands-on-deck, and creative license.
What if your boss/client said: Here’s the assignment, do what you think best, select and assemble your A-team, take the time you need, and money’s no object.
Given that latitude and support, you’d end up with the equivalent of the visual masterpiece, Life of Pi.
And well you should.
But what happens when the boss describes a Life of Pi project vision, but is unable to provide the budget, resources and production time frame you need to hire the best talent, scout the best locations, and invest in the highest quality visual effects.
Well, that’s when you end up with Pi and the Finicky Alley Cat.
And in the end, nobody’s happy about it.
There’s a great poster out there from a company called Despair, Inc. It features the Leaning Tower of Pisa with the caption, Mediocrity: It takes a lot less time and most people won’t notice the difference until it’s too late.
Oh, we notice alright.
But sometimes, in every type of work, we have to “settle,” pick our battles, and move on.
(“I can live with the scruffy cat with attitude if you can…”).
I think it’s fair to say that most people start a project -- a goal -- with the best possible intent and expectations.
They want the finished product to live up to the “client brief.”
("“What is well done is done forever,” said Henry David Thoreau).
I empathize with my photographer because he has something of beauty to offer, not the least of which is a unique talent and perspective. We all have that in some capacity so it’s hard to accept mediocrity, compromise, and budget shortfalls, when you just know things could be done so much better.
So what to do?
Try doing less. But do those few things First Class (or why waste your time at all).
If you have to settle because of limited resources, settle for impactful.
If you have to choose, choose wisely.
Don’t settle for a cat when you need a tiger.