Last weekend I went out for my first bike ride of the year. The first ride is always hard, and I was battling a strong wind that day too. The bad news was I realized my computer battery was dead. But that ended up being the good news, as I didn’t know how slow I was on that first windy ride.
After my initial frustration that I couldn’t track my average speed like I always do, I realized it didn’t really matter for this particular ride. The first ride is about getting outside, putting your legs and lungs through real hills, and getting yourself ready for the upcoming season.
Sometimes work is like that first ride. It’s about getting it done – not getting it perfect. Internally at my company, we often talk about the need to sometimes do “B” work in order to get all the necessary work done. This is a hard concept for perfectionists (I have my hand raised right now) who always like to do “A” work. The key is identifying which projects require “A” work and which ones can get by with “B” work. One way to differentiate is to think about the end viewer of the work. If the work is intended for an external client or prospect or is something public-facing like your ads or marketing materials, it needs to be “A” work. But if it’s for internal use, oftentimes “B” work is just fine.
As a manager, it’s important to help your employees know which type of work is required so that they right-size their time and effort. For instance, if I ask for data or information from someone, I might tell them, “This doesn’t have to look pretty. It can be handwritten or in a spreadsheet. I just need the information by 5 p.m.”
During the recession, we all learned to do more with less. And while the economy has improved, the concept of doing more with less remains. Virtually every businessperson I talk to says their industry is more competitive than ever; therefore we all must continually strive for efficiency gains to stay in the game.
So how do you drive that efficiency? Of course, we all try to use technology, which in many cases is very helpful. However, once you use technology to the extent that it can be utilized, you still have to get the work done. In that regard, I’m sure many of you are familiar with the 80/20 concept. Using that concept, you can spend 20% of the time and get 80% of the outcome. And if that’s sufficient, that’s fine. That’s doing solid “B” work. You could produce five times as much “B” work in the same amount of time as it would take you to produce a single unit of “A” work. I know the math’s not perfect, but the idea is you can be a lot more productive if you only do “B” work when that’s all that’s required.
So as you approach your work, consider your audience and how your work output will be viewed and used. Then ask yourself, should you strive for perfection or just bring your “B” game?