The Perfection Paradox

In business, striving for perfection is the norm.

But achieving it? Very, very rare.

See, striving for perfection paralyses people.

It fosters a culture where pointing out what might be wrong is rewarded.

Presenting something that might be right?

That’s like putting a bull’s eye on your work. And on yourself.

Strangely, in Dutch companies people literally invite each other to ‘shoot at’ their ideas.

The frame: ideas are the enemy. We must attack them.

What comes of this? Usually nothing.

Because finding a far-fetched reason to not do something is like scoring a hattrick in corporate culture.

You get to shine for being smart. No-one has to work hard to make the idea happen. And no money is spent.

It’s loss aversion heaven.

Except that you’re losing a hell of a lot of great opportunities.

So striving for perfection is bad. You know what’s even worse? 

Achieving perfection.

That’s what you discover when you read this interesting piece of research.

Yes, consumers will buy more if you get good reviews. Social proof works.

But here’s the twist …

They’ll buy less if you only get 5-star reviews.

Because perfection is suspicious. It makes us wonder if it’s just a facade, a fraud.


Conversely, admitting a small fault is an effective way to establish liking and credibility. Bernbach knew that when he made his VW ads.






We all subconsciously feel the perfection paradox:

If it’s perfect, there must be something wrong with it.

So forget perfection. Get to work.

Build a minimum viable product, whether that’s a strategy, an app, an ad or a company.

Then ship it, warts and all.

Because perfect just isn’t worth it.