A winning mindset: It’s better to be good enough than excellent (and how prototyping can help you in refining your idea).
A lot of innovators want to enter the market with a really good, almost perfect product or service. That’s a mistake. The best, most sophisticated, or an excellent product will require a huge amount of invested time and money from the innovator, as well as everyone else involved.
Because there is always too little time and money – especially at the beginning of an entrepreneurial journey – a lot of products that could otherwise be quite successful, never make it to market at all.
An important step at the very beginning is that the innovation is “good enough” or so good that customers would be interested. When customers become interested, they will buy it, evaluate it, provide their opinion and arm the innovator with information that will allow for product improvements.
Perfection is an illusion
A good example of the eternal search for perfection was the French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet. He once declared that his life was “nothing more than a huge failure.” In 1908, after three years of painting his new collection, Monet had the feeling that none of the paintings met his high expectations. Just before the opening of the exhibition in Paris, the world-famous painter took a knife and a brush and destroyed 15 of his masterpieces.
The opening of the exhibition had to be postponed, and Monet said: “I know that my paintings would have seemed perfect to you. I know that they would have been admired and very successful at the show, but I couldn’t have been more indifferent to them because I knew they were bad. I am convinced of that.”
The painter, Monet, and prototyping
Perfection is an illusion – we are convinced that it drives us to extremes, but in reality, it destroys us. Perfection is not some standard that we are able to achieve, because the finish line is always in constant motion.
The above-mentioned case was not the first, nor was it the last time when Monet destroyed some of his masterpieces. And he wasn’t the only one either. Charles Dickens set fire to letters and records that he had lined up for 20 years in order to cover up an affair. Franz Kafka did the same, publishing a couple of short works during his lifetime which led to the receipt of some mild attention from a few literary critics.
But because doubt in his abilities irritated him so much, he threw most of his writings into the furnace.
Perfectionism can be divided into two subcategories: one that sets high standards and helps us get better at our work, and one that fuels our fears and worries about mistakes and prevents us from starting work at all.
3. From good to even better
An example of “something better done than perfect” is the Clio, a car from Renault. It was launched by the French car manufacturer in 1990. It was awarded Car of the Year, although it had many imperfections and flaws. But it was still “good enough” for the market to accept it.
With the proceeds from cars sold, Renault set about improving the Clio, which today looks completely different compared to the first models. It has now been on the market for 30 years.
Aside from French Renault, the American company, Apple, is also known for repeatedly launching a product onto the market with certain shortcomings. Apple’s products remain in the pockets and hands of customers that eagerly await the latest – which are usually unveiled at a special event in the autumn, and are then followed by long lines out the front of Apple’s stores. Despite the fact that former Apple CEO and founder Steve Jobs was a perfectionist, he also had a very good understanding of the market.
Better prototyping than perfection
In the world of prototyping, the mindset “better to be good enough than to be the best” can be upgraded with the mindset “better prototyping than perfection.” Why? The process of prototyping is an excellent test of innovation in a safe and protected environment. It is a way to bring together information and data that will help the innovator start the process of testing-improving-progress and feedback before entering the market.
Included in the process of prototyping, where a client has an idea to produce a specific product, we include an industrial designer and constructor who have knowledge of 3D technologies. They open the door to many ways of going about making the product.
Experts for making prototypes are also invited to collaborate in designing the product, where they advise the designer and constructor on the possibility of making and optimising the product so that as few corrections as possible will be needed during the physical production phase of the prototype.
In the case of demanding and component parts of products that are subjected to various tests and loads, we undertake the topography of the product (such a simulation prevents poor product quality, breaks, and cracks).
Apple and prototyping
First, we fix errors virtually in a CAD / CAM programme. The prototyping center has knowledge, experience and very well knows 3D technologies so that it is able to select the most appropriate technology based on the data on the desired prototype or product, which allows, according to the purpose of the product, the most appropriate production in terms of quantity, material, surface, colour, production time and price.
At Chemets, we adhere to the PUMA method when developing and producing prototypes, innovations, and products for the market or for special purposes. P relates to the problem you are faced with, and that it has a quick solution. U relates to the success that will be guaranteed by virtue of its uniqueness. M relates to helping you minimise costs and maximise value. While A relates to the activity, speed, and proactivity we have in the genes of our company.
The power of prototyping is in taking something good or very good and making it even better. During this process, innovators get access to key information, which they have to deal with before entering the market.
Trust between the client and contractor
No idea is impossible, and each one presents us with a new challenge. The way the prototyping process takes place itself depends on the client. There are three types of clients: ones that are clever, ones that know it all, and perfectionists. A client who is clever will seek out a contractor that has the knowledge, experience, and appropriate technology. When trust is established between client and contractor, the execution of the prototyping process is just in the minor details.
The clients that know it all are confident in their own knowledge and do not trust procedures, so the implementation of their ideas is often limited by pre-set prices, which may not correspond to what actually happens in such situations. There is mistrust between the client and the contractor, making decisions is difficult. Even before the prototyping process begins, perfectionists wait for three requirements to be fulfilled: enough feedback, enough financial resources for mass production, and a perfectly designed drawing as well as a perfect computer-based drawing.
Despite the established trust between the client and the contractor, the process takes a long time, and entry onto the market may never even take place.
The prototyping process at Chemets provides innovators with a very important way of thinking: it is necessary to optimise every single thing. It is better to do something than to be perfect.
Perfection can only be a path, but it can never be a goal.
Barbara H. Wilkesmann