I’ve had the pleasure of reading a pre-release copy of Michael Port’s upcoming new book, Beyond Booked Solid. This book is a treasure trove of ideas for anyone thinking about starting or improving a small business. While the book has been a great read, I stumbled upon a revolutionary concept in one of the chapters yesterday that truly may change the way I look at personal development.
Michael refers to the concept as Satisficing and is based on an economic theory by Nobel Laureate, Herbert Simon. He relates Simon’s idea as…
Any business that tries to make decisions based on how to “maximize” its returns will bankrupt itself in a never ending search for the best option.
Michael takes a step back and relates from his business experience that…
Instead, what successful businesses do is attempt to “satisfice,” by which Simon meant they are happy with the results that are “good enough.”
Michael has a great way of taking a wordy theoretical concept and putting it into simple language that almost anyone can understand. He puts it this way…
Seeking perfection usually results in indecision. Indecision is the antithesis of improvement. If we become hamstrung trying to achieve perfection, then there will, in the end, never be any improvement. If instead we are able to continue moving forward, then we can constantly improve.
This is a precursor to the Japanese business philosophy called Kaizen, which advocates the need for continuous improvement in somebody’s personal and professional life.
This concept really opened my eyes. I have always been a big advocate of designing a perfect day, as a way of motivating myself in goal setting and personal development. If I can see it, I can do it, has always been my motto.
Here is the problem… every time I try to create a “perfect” day in my mind or on paper, I get overwhelmed by competing ideas. After all, if it is the perfect day it has to be the “best” there is. Here is an example…
I usually visualize myself on a beautiful, sunny island in the Caribbean, with a cool drink in my hand. I picture a boat at the dock and that is where the picture starts to get fuzzy. My mind starts trying to figure out all the “perfect” details…. hmmm what island is this? What type of boat is this? Is this an ice tea in my hand or a Coke…?
The questions go on and on then the idea dies. Perfection kills it off.
But lets take a little bit different scenario… let’s step back from perfect to something great. Something that we know well and that we enjoy. Let’s start with “great” and add improvements.
Here is how it would work.
One of my favorite places in the world is the beach in Carmel by the Sea, California. It is very picturesque, with white sands and beautiful hills in the background. While there are places that might be better, this is a “great” place to start.
Since sitting on the beach all day would get old after while. I can improve the experience by adding a boat. But what kind of boat? Here is where I need to give myself some options (no more than three).
I could add a
- Fishing Boat
- Pleasure Boat
- Sightseeing Boat
Since this is such a great place it would be fun to take people out on a sightseeing boat and show them around. The fishing boat would be too much work and the pleasure boat would get old after a while… so we’ll go with the sightseeing boat.
Our next improvement would be our clientele
We can offer
- A short and cheap tour primarily for families with kids
- A moderately priced one hour cruise for tourists
- A two hour dinner cruise for anniversaries and special occasions
The though of sailing with noisy and boisterous kids would surely get on my nerves and the thought of dealing with tourists constant questions would get old quickly. But offering a luxurious cruise to honeymooners and people celebrating anniversaries and other special occasions sounds like fun. Lets go with that.
Now we need to choose a special cuisine for our guests
Since we are on the central coast of California we could offer…
- Fresh, local seafood
- A festive Mexican menu
- A cadre of local central coast specialties from wine country
With our proximity to the famous Napa wine area and the celebratory nature of our sightseeing trip, lets go with some local specialties and offer central coast wine and cheese to finish it off.
Can you see how this process works. You start with something great and then you make it better. Along the way you give yourself options, but you limit the choices to only a few. As you followed along, your choices may have been very different from mine. As you can see, when you have to pick from a short list it is relatively easy to make a decision.
Notice how our “great” day evolved quickly into something enjoyable and doable. The whole process of Start with Great, and Make it Better is a quick way to get started on a project. When we put aside perfection and limit our choices to just a few things we can quickly move forward.
Michael Port’s new book has really opened my eyes to the trap of perfectionism. This book is full of real world examples that really extend well beyond small business and entrepreneurship. This is a book is a treasure trove of proven principles that can truly change your life. Unfortunately the name “Beyond Booked Solid,” doesn’t do this book justice.
His book is due to be released in April. You don’t want to miss this one!