Finance

Why a ‘walk in progress’ is the best remedy for perfection paralysis

Yamini Naidu /

Spanish shoemaker Camper made headlines in San Francisco when the company opened its unfinished store to customers, simply calling it “Walk in Progress”. Customers were invited to draw on the unpainted walls and shoes were displayed on top of packaging containers. 

Customers loved it and the most popular message written on the walls was “Keep the store just the way it is.”

Camper now uses this experimental approach as its philosophy and opens stores in two stages. The first stage, the “Walk in Progress” is where customers are invited to contribute their thoughts and messages. The finished store then takes on the unique characteristics of its neighbourhood, shaped by its customers.

Camper has successfully adopted a get-it-out-there/ship-it philosophy. Who would have thought you could do that with a half-finished retail shopfront?

Recently I had the privilege of hearing Seth Godin speak and a key message of his was “70% is the new perfect”. This immediately embraces a ‘ship-it’, or iterative, mentality. Get stuff done and ship it out, and then continually improve based on customer feedback and market expectations.

It is a powerful message – unless you are landing planes or saving lives – as perfectionism is often the enemy of execution.

Of course, embracing 70% as the new perfect is not a licence to fail. It doesn’t give us a mandate to put out shoddy work, or anything we are not proud of. But on the other hand, clutching our ideas, products or strategies to our heart as we tinker away crafting and re-crafting each word or each line of code, not willing to share till it is perfect, is a fool’s game. 

In their bestseller Rework, Fried and Heinemeier Hansson say it best: “You still want to make something great. This approach recognises the best way to get there is through iterations.”

Yamini Naidu is a global thought leader in storytelling and business communication. She is a director at yamininaidu.com.au, and was previously a director at One Thousand & One, a company she co-founded in 2004.

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