16 02 2012

Whatever walk of life you ‘perform’ in, it is usually a mistake to settle for being “good enough.” In the world of elite sport this is widely recognised and the pursuit of excellence drives standards ever higher.

But what of other sectors? What of your business? Are you genuinely seeking performance, chasing excellence or have you allowed the mediocre mind-set of “good enough” to settle?

In many cases business owners do just this and don’t even realise they have done so!

“Good enough” can come in many guises; among them, good enough to turn a profit or good enough to stay as we are or always have been. And if you are happy with average, content with mediocrity who am I to criticise? After all, yours is not the type of business I aim to work with.

But hold on a minute. One of those guises tells the story of why ‘good enough seldom is’ better than many others and recent news has demonstrated, catastrophically, why.

The owners of the cruise liner the Costa Concordia believed they were good enough and the law supported them in that belief. The law stated (and still states) that all new passengers must be put through life boat drill within 24 hours of boarding.

This potentially leaves 23 hours and 59 minutes during which passengers on board a cruise liner have not a clue what to do if the ship gets into trouble. But that’s okay, it’s good enough; the law says so.

As we now know, tragically the Costa Concordia did get into trouble and a number of passengers and crew lost their lives. Yes, there were other factors but honestly, with the benefit of twenty-twenty hindsight, would you agree that merely being compliant with that law was good enough?

It’s an extreme example but compare that philosophy of being good enough to being good enough in your business. Legally compliant you may be but have you considered whether that compliance really is good enough for you, your staff and your customers?

Are you one of those businesses that have no strategy because, well, we’ve always done things one day to the next, we have always done things this way and, so far, that has always been good enough?

There are any number of businesses in the UK and the world who believe themselves to be good enough, not all of them small businesses either. Kodak believed they were good enough, Woolworths believed the same.

A vital component of any good strategy is to run it through a series of ‘what if’ scenarios. In planning for excellence, it is vital to be prepared for problems, for adversity too. And, regardless of excuses, more often than not these problems can be predicted – ask the owners of the Costa Concordia!

Settling for good enough is risky business. Unlike the captain of the Costa Concordia but like some of his passengers simply being good enough could end up in you going down with your ‘ship’.

Mediocrity may seem safe, but “good enough” seldom is.

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, February 2012

Read more blogs by Jim Cowan

Twitter @cowanglobal



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