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Perfection May be Holding Your Organization Back

Pursuit of perfection is one of the prime sources of failure within organizations today. It often creates a jeopardy-based workplace that replaces a nurturing environment, shifts employee evaluation criteria from performance-based to error-based, and causes employees to run for cover.


• Small groups of poorer performers often band together to protect each other and advance their interests, harboring agendas that often conflict with that of the organization.

• These groups will often prey upon top performers with whom they cannot compete, often discrediting and pushing them out of the organization.

Employee retention and performance

• Jeopardy-based environments cause top performers to seek employment elsewhere.

• Remaining employees focus on not making mistakes and avoiding personal culpability rather than driving success, leaving the organization to fend for itself.


• Managers will tend to avoid making decisions and approving projects to avoid potential failure.

• Managers will tend to adopt senior leadership’s views without questioning them, requiring senior leadership to be perfect, though they lack access to the granular-level information available to the manager.

• They will focus their efforts on competing in the internal environment rather than the external marketplace, competing against each other rather than against the organization’s competitors.


• Managers will tend to avoid pursuing or taking responsibility for projects, since they expose the manager to failure and political attack should the projects not be successful.

• Managers will abandon good projects before they have sufficient time to mature, and fail to abandon nonperforming projects to avoid admitting failure and exposure to criticism.

• Project leaders will tend to over-document projects, taking time away from project implementation.


• An over-pursuit of perfection in manufacturing often results in processes and machinery that are expensive, specialized and inflexible. They are optimal as long as they remain relevant long enough for their cost to be amortized across enough sales to show strong profitability. However, if market conditions change demand or advances in technology enable new competitors, they become liabilities. The natural tendency is to hold on too long, blocking funds from being used to develop new capabilities that will allow the company to compete successfully.


• Marketing managers will tend to distrust their research, instead promoting data that supports the views of senior leadership whose views are unconditioned by research data.

• Analysis paralysis often sets in, with teams continuing to split hairs beyond the point of relevancy to avoid public scrutiny.

Senior leadership that foments fear of failure and fails to provide a protected environment in which to pilot test new ideas will lead its organization to suboptimal operations and reduced profitability.

This is easily corrected. Let’s talk.

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