Good enough can be very hard

3CUOYQBC03A while back, one of my stakeholders asked me for some pricing data. I had visualized this kind of data countless times for countless stakeholders.

I opened a new Excel file, and dumped in the raw data. I created three different pivot tables, each with a standard view I knew some of my stakeholders loved. I created two charts, again with standard views that resonated in meeting rooms.

I sent the file, and the guy who received it started to tweaking one of the pivot tables to show what he wanted. The other two pivot tables? Untouched. The two charts? Ignored. I did too much work.

That wasn’t the end of the world for me. I wasted about fifteen minutes organizing the file with the extra views he didn’t use.

But what if the request was larger? What if I spent a day creating useless views? Or a week?

Finding the “good enough” threshold can be difficult. But it’s totally necessary. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  1. It’s the only way to maintain your productivity. If you get in the habit of going too far beyond “good enough”, your projects will slide. As you move to a career in business, you need to show that your productivity won’t suffer with new challenges and new stakeholders.
  2. It shows your awareness of the demands of others. A key feature of business is knowing what your customers will, and won’t, pay for. Similarly, you must know what your stakeholders care, or don’t care, about when it comes to your work. Find “good enough” and deliver to it as often as you can.

Don’t let the connotation of “shoddy” creep into your mind here. Sometimes, “good enough” is your A+ work. Different stakeholders have different demands. Keep your eyes and ears open for this variability.

Know that “good enough” for technical work can be very different than it is for business work. As you consider your career transition, pay attention to what parts of your deliverables matter most. Tune your effort accordingly.

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