Trading Perfection for Progress

Posted on Feb 6, 2018 by Cascade

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By Sue Bruning, Senior Director of Marketing

Many project managers, organizational leaders, and institutional influencers have fallen victim to the stifling call for perfection. As the quintessential Type A personality, I often find the need for perfection quite overwhelming. I’m always looking for ways to be better, do things more efficiently, save time, save money… you know the drill. When I was invited to join the Project Management Office (PMO) for SUMMIT, Cascade’s Continuous Improvement Program, I knew it was a perfect fit for my skill set.

After a long PMO discussion on measuring progress and employee engagement, a colleague shared Steve Wardelworth’s Continuous Improvement Beats Postponed Perfection. This one really struck a chord with me. Wardelworth makes the point that changing the way you do things today can be far more beneficial than waiting for the ideal circumstances to start your change. This applies to everything from your personal life to the work environment.

I often get stuck waiting for, or trying to achieve, perfection and miss out on the momentum and confidence of incremental improvements. Then it becomes a self-fulling prophecy. If you are feeling stuck, forget perfection, follow these three steps and trade perfection for progress.

Describe the Goal

Start with the destination in mind. What is it that you want to achieve? Taking the time to thoroughly describe your goal not only organizes your thoughts, it can be very useful to engage key stakeholders and earn their buy-in. I’m talking about actually writing it down on paper. Think about both quantitative (things you can measure with numbers or percentages) and qualitative (action items you can check off the list) ways to describe your goal.  

Take Stock

What resources or assets are available to you today?  This includes a budget, people, systems, anything you need to get it done. If you don’t have direct access, think about where can you beg, borrow, or steal them.  Collaborating with colleagues through formal or informal workgroups may be more effective than spending six months trying to secure a new hire position.

Map It Out

This is the most important part. Map out the journey from where you are today all the way to your final goal. Break it up with milestones based on both time and completed tasks. Start making change today with the resources you have available. Schedule routine check-ins to evaluate progress, changes in resources, and your goal. Don’t be surprised if your incremental progress changes your original goal. As Wardelworth reminds us, if we are stuck waiting for perfection, we are missing out on the dozens of small improvements that could make big change.

Perfection is overrated. If you’re tired of waiting for the ideal circumstances, trade perfection for progress. Focus on small improvements and incremental change to build momentum and make a difference today. At Cascade Environmental, we’re continuously improving upon the variety of services and technologies that we provide, from complex site characterization to sonic drilling and everything in between. It’s all in effort to provide the best possible solutions for our clients, which can only happen with well-defined goals, assessments, and plans.

About the Author

Sue Bruning is Senior Marketing Director with Cascade Environmental. She also serves as Chair of Cascade’s Sustainability Council and is a member of the Project Management Office of SUMMIT, Cascade’s Continuous Improvement Program.  Sue has over twenty years, experience in the environmental services industry. Connect with Sue via LinkedIn.


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