PERFECTION? – In the corporate World

Perfection – I was recently asked to use my corporate executive experience to comment on the pursuit of perfection in the corporate world from both a corporate and individual perspective.

I can’t remember throughout my long career ever hearing this word in relation to corporate goals or achievement whether individual or corporate. What is perfection in the corporate world and how would you measure it?

A definition of perfection is the action or process of improving something until faultless. And then they give an example: ‘as among the key tasks was the perfection of new mechanisms of economic management’. Isn’t this an oxymoron?

Sun Tzu describes the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without conflict taking all intact. Translating this into the corporate environment suggests you, as a corporate, are so good at what you do your lead in the market is so great that any attempt by a competitor to challenge your superiority could be futile and probably expensive. Great business leaders avoid expensive hostility; they achieve results by consent or superior tactics. He also suggests that attacking strength is not a good strategy. Nothing here suggests perfection as upon reflection in hindsight elements of strategy and tactical execution can always be improved.

Throughout my career the pursuit of excellence and superiority has been my goal. If these targets are considered a synonym of perfection, so be it, but in my eyes, they are not the same as perfection. Furthermore, individual stars are only as valuable as their backup. A superior goal is to coach all people to be a greater force as a whole, than the sum of their individual contributions.

I am not aware of any successful corporate that seeks perfection, they seek relative excellence and superiority.

As for individual people I struggle to define a corporate that measures performance in terms of the perfection of any individual, not even the CEO. Perfection requires boundless time and effort, a luxury in the corporate world where timing is everything. Thus, the success of a tactical move is not defined by its perfection, only its quality and timing.

In conclusion business is conducted between people. All people are analogue and imperfect. Anyone seeking perfection is probably delusional, and possibly scary.

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