Business Strategy and Planning

“Embracing Progress Over Perfection: A New Approach to Problem-Solving in Business”

In every new experience, every new creation, every fresh innovation, we find ourselves asking the same question: Is this ideal?


The answer is invariably, “No!” Nothing is flawless, which makes this a perplexing question. If our evaluation of worth is based on the ideal, we will only encounter flaws and, as a result, reject everything. This approach is simply not feasible.


Therefore, we should focus on a more insightful question: Is our present challenge an improvement over our previous one?


By asking this question, we acknowledge the inevitability of flaws — because challenges are inevitable! Accepting this fact allows us to gauge progress more realistically and discern ways to enhance our situation in the future.


Let’s illustrate this with an example.


In the current discourse about the future of work, some companies have started to adopt a four-day workweek. This concept intrigues me. Pre-pandemic, the notion of a four-day workweek would likely have been dismissed. Now, it’s a reality for many. What was once deemed impossible is now commonplace.


Here’s what we’ve observed: The transition can be challenging, but once it’s executed correctly, productivity remains consistent and workers are more content. It seems miraculous! However, there’s a hitch: After about a year, workers start to report a feeling of disconnection. This is what I learned from the then-director of people at Buffer, a tech company that adopted a four-day workweek, when I penned an article about this trend a while back.


Why do people feel disconnected? This is due to the structural changes that make a four-day workweek feasible. How can one-fifth of the workweek be eliminated while maintaining the same productivity level? The answer is by drastically reducing meetings and casual conversations! The increase in efficiency results in a decrease in social connectivity. So, how should leaders respond? This depends on the question they pose.


Many might be inclined to ask: Is this ideal? We already know it isn’t! Although employees appreciate the additional leisure time, they also feel detached. If this undermines company culture, there could be negative repercussions. Perhaps the whole four-day workweek concept was a misstep…


However, posing the more insightful question—Is our present challenge an improvement over our previous one?—yields a different response. Before the four-day workweek, workers felt stretched thin. Now, they report a better work-life balance and increased satisfaction. Recruiting and retaining talent has become easier. Although employees feel less connected, is this not a better challenge to have than the previous one? Undoubtedly, it is.


The new goal is apparent: Address this more manageable challenge, then prepare to confront the next one.


Challenges are not solely indicative of shortcomings; they can also signal growth. We must become adept at distinguishing and appreciating the difference. After all, even the most accomplished leaders will never achieve the ideal. No company will experience endless, harmonious growth. No individual will transition seamlessly from one achievement to the next.


Our best course of action is continual improvement, always seeking the next area to enhance.





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