Blog Posts

Is perfection such a bad thing?

It’s interesting how things have changed in the last four decades or so.

Growing up, the mantra most often heard was… “If it’s worth doing – it’s worth doing well”.  Uncle Les would always say, “A job not finished is a job not done” and “I don’t care what language you speak… near enough is just not good enough”. 

He was an old ‘Bankie’ who could add pounds, shillings and pence while running his fingers down the three columns- at pace.  Accuracy was not negotiable for him.  After all his job required it.  His workshop looked like a new pin – “a place for everything and everything in its place”.  He could find a chisel in the dark.

Working in IT in the 70’s and 80’s was all about continuity. It was all mainframes [mostly blue – IBM] and everything was measured in uptime. Five 9’s it was called.  99.999%  uptime, or put another way a little over 5 minutes of downtime per year.  That wasn’t a target – that was an minimum expectation. Five 9’s.  Nothing you did was allowed to impact on that.  On the contrary, everything was done to ensure it was met. In fact, during my 10 year tenure, there was no downtime, except on one occasion. That was entirely attributable to human error, hubris, stupidity and carelessness all rolled into one.

Perfection wasn’t a goal it was a constant expectation.

Fast forward three decades and hasn’t it all changed.  CTRL – ALT – DEL is not a last resort, but the first. Powering something off [or issuing a Logic 0 – as IBM called it] is the first trouble shooting course of action not the last. We switch everything off to restart it if it isn’t working… several times, if required.

It’s now at a stage where companies have no contact details, no one to call and speak to. Or if you do they leave you on hold feeding you encouragement to hang up and go and look online.  Trawl through the experiences of ten thousand other poor punters to see of anyone has found a solution.

If no result is forthcoming, then send an email- their auto responder, whilst reminding you how important your plea for help or information is, assures you that you should see a response in 3-4 business days. That’s a lot like writing a letter, circa 1983.  Only then I would count on hearing back.

Now, as the email swooshes it’s way out of the Outbox… into the big email bucket in the sky… I know I’ll never hear anything back.  My plaintiff email cry for human intervention, is probably orbiting around a distant galaxy, on the edge of some black hole, the will eventually suck it into the abyss, extract all the energy from it and allow gravity to crush it into some nano particle.

Or it could be sitting on algorithm’s inbox, just being ignored. More likely.

Entrepreneur speak now says ‘perfection is the enemy of progress’, ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’, ‘Fail fast and fail forward’.

So when it comes to building and renovation, what you might loosely describe as ‘working with your hands’, it is an absolute joy to find there are still people who take pride in what they produce. Who’s work is exemplary and who don’t want their name attached to anything shoddy.

It comes in all forms. Plumbing, electrical, painting, tiling, maintenance, landscaping, cleaning. You name it - whatever field - there are still people who will not accept, “near enough is good enough”.   

And what a relief and pleasure that that is the case.

Over the months spent getting The Sampson - Orange ready, we encountered many who did not meet expectations, but importantly we only engaged those few who ‘got’ our vision and met our expectation of outcome.

Probably best described as congruent values. They wanted the property to look its best as much as we did.  They took pride in their work and in the end result.

And the end result is telling.  Whilst we were mindful we didn’t ride roughshod over the idiosyncrasies that age brings with any building, we were adamant of the required standard and appointment. And that’s been achieved.

A testament to all of those who lent their hand to re-dress her in her new finery.

Uncle Les would be proud.    

Jacqui Ferris