How Do You Know Where To Stop?

Think MVPs are only for sports? Try this.

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Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash
Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

This is the 4th in our series about perfectionism. You can find the others here and here and here.

When I say “MVP” where does your head go first? Sports?

Nah, that’s not what we’re talking about here today. Today, we’re talking about the concept of the “minimum viable product”. In the start-up world, this means the product with enough basic features for it to be usable, so you can get feedback from early adopters and iteration can begin.

But what if you could adapt this type of thinking to your work?

If you’re a perfectionist, you likely approach every task and project with perfection as the end goal. There’s just one glaring problem with that premise: Perfect isn’t possible.

Instead, what if you started each project by defining what your MVP could look like? Your MVP will be defined by what’s “good enough” in that particular situation.

After you’ve completed the MVP, then, and only then, if you happen to have extra time, you can keep going to make it even better.

Let me give you a real-life example: I was working with a client, a recently divorced dad, who wanted to plan a birthday party for his son. He wanted this party to be “the best”. He was worried about the venue, the food, the decorations, the balloons, the party favors, the invitations. He wanted to get it all “right” and as a result, he hadn’t even begun. He was a bit paralyzed because he didn’t want to get anything “wrong”.

His perfectionism was preventing his progress.

So I asked him to think about what he thought would make his son happy. Does his son care about the decorations? Or the venue? Or the invitations?

His response: “No, he doesn’t care about any of that stuff. He just wants to eat pizza and play video games with a few friends.”

And all of a sudden, we had an MVP version of the party. The invitations? An email to a few parents. The venue? His living room. The food? Delivery pizza. Decorations? Non-existent.

And then this dad took action and made it happen.

Done is better than perfect.

What’s something you’ve put off because you’re paralyzed by the need for perfection?

Today, how about defining the MVP and taking that first step towards action.

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