20 August 2009

Two-pronged enmity

Reflecting on a the horns of a dilemma, or something. Two syndromes:

1) The good is the enemy of the great:

Person A: "You know what? It would take a lot of focus and effort and teamwork, but we could go for this Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal!"

Person B: "Really? But why...? These small, hairless, inoffensive occupations that we're currently busy with are getting us by just fine."

2) The great is the enemy of the good:

Person A: "Hey! Look at this cool thing I accomplished!"

Person B: "What?? Why did you waste time doing that? We TOTALLY could have accomplished a MIND-BENDINGLY AWESOME version of that!!!!!"

Person A: "Oh. But, we weren't. And we haven't. And I did this. And it's pretty cool."

[Six months later....]

Person A: "Hmm. Glad I didn't wait around for B's MIND-BENDINGLY AWESOME version, or we'd still have nuttin' at all...."

I wonder:

It seems to me that good and great are both pretty nifty. And initiative trumps nay-saying almost every time. So can't we all just get along? (Probably not.)

image by Tony the Misfit (rights)


jason said...

ahhh sighhh.... to true, to true.

Jayce from Rochester said...

I think you're confusing at least two axes there: insider vs. outsider, and good vs. great ... or rather, good vs. better. The latter is relatively simple: changing the amount of time spent, resources used, and people involved changes the quality of the result, and "more" does not necessarily make "better" -- a thousand chefs won't make a better loaf of bread than one.

The insider knows what goes into and what went into a project and the outsider doesn't. It's not so much of a dichotomy as it is a measurement: if you don't know how it happened, you're an outsider, even if you might be an insider on other facets of the project.

An insider (by my definition) recognizes errors in a healthy way: recognizing simply why each decision along the way was made and how it affected the final result.

An outsider plays "if only" scenarios as if changing a specific decision along the way would have had definitive corrective action when changing a decision changes course such that other steps would not be followed.

Likewise, only an outsider would suggest that something should have been better, for an insider realizes that the outcome of a project is as good as it is; ergo the best it could have been.

All that said, being an insider grows wisdom to make better decisions in the future, ensuring that the "quality" of future projects tends to increase.