Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Relative Quality

And now... for something different, from the usual Biblical stuff.

I have a friend, who spends inordinate amounts of time getting stuff just right. Very picky, he is. Now me, I come from the other side of things. I look for the easy way.

Most of what we do is for others- work, church, school, etc. Of course part of these efforts are for us, but these are mainly outward- to please the boss, to minister to people, to make the professor happy so we can get a good grade. Most of us try to do a fairly good job at what we do, whether it is writing a paper or paying our bills on time.

There are two ways to fail- to do an incomplete job, or to be inefficient. Between these two lies the type of job we want to do- efficient and effective balanced with thoroughness.

So how do we tell exactly how much effort to put into a job? The first thing to realize is that not every job we have to do is of the same importance, and that the less important something is, the less perfection is required. Everything requires normal responsible diligence, but few things require complete perfection.

This concept I call "relative quality." Whereas some burn their time away insisting on absolute quality in everything, I say that the quality level is determined by the nature of the task.

There is another reason why striving for absolute quality in everything is pointless-

A man's perception of something is only partially dependant on how that thing really is.

If this were not the truth, there would be no deception, and no error. Everyone would know the absolute factual truth and we would live in a perfect world because of it. This is why perfection is impossible, because we naturally allow irrelevant factors to influence our perception of reality.

It is like the stock market. A stock's price is only PARTLY related to how well the company is doing. This is why a company that is doing well can have its stock lose value. I suppose the best investments are made, not only in sound companies, but in sound companies that aren't going to displease Wall Street anytime soon or become victims of market panic related to that particular industry.

Because perception and reality are different, you can do a job that you perceive as absolutely perfect and someone will find a fault with it. If it seems like I am advocating a "good enough" attitude that's because I am. There may be a few select people you must please but even there quality improvement is only part of the task, you must mainly manage perception.

Will you still argue with me? You know as well as I do that you can't please all of the people all of the time, and only some of the people can you please, and then only some of the time.

No comments: