Wes Baker

Quality

August 28, 2010

In my career, there are plenty of folks with plenty of opinions and they all can build their own soapbox. One thing that comes up time and again is the idea of good versus perfect. I’ve seen many people who claim that perfection and the best possible outcome is the only way to go. Others claim that in our attempt for perfection we sidestep good and barrel towards top heavy and unpolished. Where do I stand? Somewhere in the middle.

Perfect is an impossible ideal. Getting there takes constant unrelenting effort and at some point you are going to collapse from exhaustion. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but somewhere down the road you’ll look back and see your time consuming attempt at perfection led to imperfect results. In addition, all of this perfecting can stop you from seeing better solutions along the way. Solutions that aren’t perfect, but are better then what you are perfecting. Are you starting to see the problem? Just because you are perfecting the solution you’ve come up with doesn’t mean you’ve arrived at an ideal solution, let alone the ideal solution.

At the same time, we need to keep good enough in check. As humans, we tend towards easier solutions that work at the time; but what will come of those quick band-aid fixes that we put in along the way? I know I’ve seen my share of those fixes and I’ve seen their aftermath. There’s a certain unspoken standard that you have to suss out over time. Whenever someone says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” I usually respond with, “Is it not broken, or are you just ignoring the problem?”

So, we’re at an impasse: perfection is an impossible ideal and good enough is a slippery slope. What’s a human to do to cope with this kind of problem? Balance. Find that point between good enough and perfection. There’s only one problem with balance, it’s not immediately evident. It takes time, effort and practice (all future topics) to find the sweet spot. So, take your time when looking for a solution, put in a good honest effort when building it, and continue to practice your craft.


Wes Baker

I’m a programmer who lives in Fredericksburg, VA. I enjoy board games, puzzles, and making things work. When I’m not in front of a screen of some sort, I’m probably spending time with my wife, my son, my animals, my board games, or my books. Check out what I'm up to now or see what tools I'm currently using.