Good is the enemy...
I love an inspirational quote, whether it’s Socrates, “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” Or Kid President, “Give the world a reason to dance.” I love how these small bites of wisdom can be passed on for centuries and continue to remain relevant to every day life.
Over the past few years there has been one quote which seems to have resonated with me more than any other, and one I come back to daily. So much so that it’s become common language in our studio and the team share it back and forth throughout the day. The quote isn’t centuries old but its relevance back then would have been just as applicable as it is today. It’s taken from the book ‘From Good to Great’ written by the Author Jim Collins and has been used by Jony Ive, the Chief Design Officer at Apple. The quote; “Good is the enemy of great.” This is something I feel strongly about.
I believe too many businesses settle for ‘good’ over ‘great’. Whether it’s content, branding or product, ‘good’ seems to cut it. In my opinion, ‘good’ isn’t good enough. ‘Good’ is average and businesses shouldn't settle for average.
So how can you tell the difference between ‘good’ and ‘great’? Well, there’s no set formula. To give a concise opinion I’d need to understand your consumer, your benefits and your purpose.
That said, I think I’ve hit on a few points which could help any business the next time they create something:
1. “What does good look like?” – Unknown
I hate this quote. I work with a lot of early stage startups and all I hear is “What does good look like.” But ‘good’ shouldn't be your aim, ‘good’ should be your benchmark.
Let me tell you this, ‘Good’ looks like your competitor. They’re probably out there doing something similar to you, tapping into the same audience and being really good at it.
So, they’re your benchmark. Understand your competitor - immerse yourself in their brand, product, and content experience - then make sure yours is better. If you can’t honestly say that it is then you’re not ‘great’ yet, you're not ready, and you won't stand a chance.
2. “Experts often possess more data than judgment” – Colin Powell
Trust your experts. You wouldn't expect a pastry chef to give you critical feedback on your profit and loss statement for example. So whether you’ve hired brand strategists, UX designers or filmmakers; trust the team of people (that you're paying) to do their job well. They don't want to create anything that isn’t relevant to your product or doesn’t make it a success. They want ‘great’ just as much as you do.
When the time does come to get involved and offer feedback, the questions you should be asking are: ‘Does it meet the brief?’, “Does it showcase the business purpose and benefits?’ And ‘Is it better than my competitor?” Together, we’ll get to ‘great’.
3. “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” – Reid Hoffman
This sounds hypocritical, but I agree. You need to keep pace. You can't waste hours iterating and striving for great while your competitor is already out there growing. You have to work quickly, you have to be smart and you have to know when to launch.
‘Great’ is still achievable though. Just because you’re not 100% happy with your launch piece (I rarely am) doesn't mean it’s not ‘great’. As long as it beats your competitors’ offerings and appears trustworthy (look up the Cialdini Principles for more on this), then you’re on the right track.
If it’s only ‘good’, then you’re already on the back foot. Remember, your competitor is ‘good’ - so you have to be ‘great’. Your consumer isn't going to bite if your brand, content or product doesn't stand taller. Post launch you can iterate. After all, on the scale, ‘great’ is a million miles away from ‘amazing.’
So don’t settle for ‘good’. ‘Good’ is average and average isn't good enough to ensure business growth, especially in the current economic climate. There’s a lot of uncertainly and only ‘great’ will survive.
Try and make this quote part of your next project. You may just create something that will “give the world a reason to dance.”