Neil Steggall
Neil Steggall, Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Onwards and upwards

Is near enough good enough for SMEs?

There is vigorous debate within management circles on this issue and I thought I would throw the question open to SAVVY members. Obviously in Neurosurgery and Airline Pilots we always want the best but do we need the very best quality video, a precision made pen, the most beautiful button on our trousers? Is society now wasting money, effort and resources in an inefficient chase for perfection desirable goal?

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6 Answers

David Bradbury

David Bradbury , Founder & CEO at Selector

Neil Hi, From a digital perspective, the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) approach to development encourages us to avoid perfection like the plague, and classifies it absolutely as a waste of effort and $$.

Neil Steggall

Neil Steggall , Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Thanks David - now I understand a little of MVP. It certainly sounds like a great initiative.
Thanks David - now I understand a little of MVP. It certainly sounds like a great initiative.
Neil Steggall

Neil Steggall , Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Thanks David - now I understand a little of MVP. It certainly sounds like a great initiative.
Thanks David - now I understand a little of MVP. It certainly sounds like a great initiative.
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Iain Dooley

As you mentioned, if you're a neurosurgeon, you have to get it right.

However, I put stuff out all the time that's far from perfect. In fact I sold 90 copies of my AdWords ebook "Your First 3 Months on AdWords" before I "launched" officially and gave people a 17 page, black and white PDF with scratchy sounding videos. The feedback I got was incredible.

I think the question of "is near enough good enough" is very simply answered by looking at the risks of getting it wrong.

How here's the rub: because we're fearful, self conscious creatures, we OVER ESTIMATE the risks of getting things wrong.

We think we have to manage our reputation and everyone will think we're a fraud and a sham and a loser if we present something that's less than perfect to the world.

The reason people strive for perfection in some circumstances is because they're keenly aware of REAL RISKS, and in other cases it's because they're perceiving risks that aren't there.

In the former case, we want them to be perfectionists. In the latter, they can relax: no-one really cares about what you do and if you stuff up everyone will have forgotten by next week :)

Leo Eliades

Leo Eliades , Owner at INSPIRENOW PTY LTD

Hi Neil, this is a very powerfful and very important question. i believe we all need to ask this question several times a day. To a point the effort we appy... read more
Hi Neil, this is a very powerfful and very important question. i believe we all need to ask this question several times a day. To a point the effort we appy in any task is productive and it offers soem benefit or return. When it gets to the point where the benefit does not relate to the effort applied its tiem to pull back. My guess would be anywhere near 80% is perfection. As mentioned by others at that time, it is time to get some more important things done, maintain agility and stop youself from procrastinating and making a real difference.
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Nerissa Atkinson

It's an interesting question; I happed to write a blog post the other day about how smaller businesses can suffer from a sort of paralysis by not being able to chose an optimum way forward. The solution I suggested was (to paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt) "do what you can with what you have where you are".

That's not to say that any activity is good activity - far from it! But instead of trying to do lots of marketing not very well, by taking the time to understand their customer base and plan and identify the most effective opportunities to connect with them, business owners will get clarity about where to focus their efforts. 

And from a marketing perspective there should always be a distinction between marketing that's effective (e.g. Adwords with a great click through rate) and marketing that's worth doing (those ads failing to convert because of a badly designed website). Track, analyse and optimise, like Swee Yeo said.

Neil Steggall

Neil Steggall , Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Thanks Nerissa, a really good answer! It is as you say an interesting question as there appears to be no single answer. Your paraphrasing is well taken and it i... read more
Thanks Nerissa, a really good answer! It is as you say an interesting question as there appears to be no single answer. Your paraphrasing is well taken and it is probably the "best space" for SME's to live in. On a slightly different angle I think much is wasted globally and in almost every area by over delivery, by going beyond what is "near enough" when near enough will probably do the job. Again this is a difficult point and one I could argue either way. Thanks for your contribution.
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Ling Lee

Ling Lee , at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Hi Neil,

I'd like to throw some fire into the debate by saying that sometimes, HD is not the best solution. What I mean is that HD sure makes things look good, but I think there are lots of other factors that one should consider - for example, internet speed. HD means slower loading times, and you can't guarantee that all Australians are on 4G or have fast and reliable internet. I myself use a laggy computer that takes ages to load and sometimes crashes thanks to the spanking new websites with a lot of multimedia content. But I guess it is all dependent on the situation. Maybe that extra 2 seconds faster loading time makes all the difference in the world for positive customer experience.

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Swee Yeo

Hi Neil,

I prefer the "Golf Approach". It is a technique that I learnt from a workshop conducted by the VP of Productivity at HP, USA. He said that they used it successfully at HP. It is similar to the "Agile" method. The difference is that the "Golf Approach" has fewer iterations and more definitions. I find it a useful technique.

Steps:

1. Work out where the flag is ie final objectives or final vision.

2. Work out the Minimum Viable Product ie something you can sell.

3. Tee off. Meet or exceed Minimum Viable Product with your allocated budget and schedule.

4. Re-evaluate & obtain feedback & plan where your next shot/phase should be. Whack the ball.

5. Repeat until you get to the objective.

Advantages:

1. Avoid gold plating - previously HP spends money and time developing features that users do not want.

2. Avoid short sighted goals or re-engineering because the first MVP cannot be extended to meet final market expectations.

3. Allow for market segmentation - Phase 1 product is inexpensive. Phase 2 product costs more etc.

4. When good ideas appear as they always do, this technique allows you to slot it into the correct phase eg great idea but it is expensive so we slot it in phase 3 when we have more revenue.

PS: The VP is probably an avid golfer.

Cheers

 

Neil Steggall

Neil Steggall , Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Hi Swee, Thanks for this approach. In reality it is a difficult question to answer as one would approach matters differently at different stages of a products l... read more
Hi Swee, Thanks for this approach. In reality it is a difficult question to answer as one would approach matters differently at different stages of a products life cycle etc. The message that seems to be coming through is to meet or exceed customer expectations at the lowest viable cost. I also think that sometimes we over estimate our customers needs and or expectations.
Neil Steggall

Neil Steggall , Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Hi Swee, Thanks for this approach. In reality it is a difficult question to answer as one would approach matters differently at different stages of a products l... read more
Hi Swee, Thanks for this approach. In reality it is a difficult question to answer as one would approach matters differently at different stages of a products life cycle etc. The message that seems to be coming through is to meet or exceed customer expectations at the lowest viable cost. I also think that sometimes we over estimate our customers needs and or expectations.
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Phil Joel

Phil Joel , Director at SavvySME

Hi Neil, I had this very same discussion with a friend who is developing a product for the corporate world last week. And he is very much thinking along the lines of Agile and MVP as it reduces wastage and focuses his resources in the right areas. The end product will still be high quality but it takes a very iterative approach to get there whereas previously, the company would have used a very traditional method such as SDLC (System Development Life Cycle) to deliver the product which arguably takes longer and in the end may not deliver a product that the users want partly because it took so long.

Neil Steggall

Neil Steggall , Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Thanks Phil that great to know and understand.
Thanks Phil that great to know and understand.
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