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"Better than good enough is bad for the job"

by HammerSmith
posted 11-11-2018 03:19 AM


41 replies so far

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Rich

4399 posts in 949 days


#1 posted 11-11-2018 04:32 AM

Words of wisdom. I can’t count the times I’ve tried to deal with flaws too soon and made the situation worse. We could all channel a little bit of Tony from time-to-time.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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fly2low

64 posts in 456 days


#2 posted 11-11-2018 09:04 AM

a corollary of that statement is
The enemy of good enough is better – which I have had to relearn too many times

-- Rich Gig Harbor, WA

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HammerSmith

257 posts in 444 days


#3 posted 11-11-2018 09:55 AM



a corollary of that statement is
The enemy of good enough is better – which I have had to relearn too many times

- fly2low

lol! Yeah man, me too! I’ve been on the wrong side of it many times over the decades… trying to make it “better”, only to make things worse… And I always see Tony’s wry grin, and that look in his eye, every time…

I guess, the key is to know exactly where “good enough” lies… It’s an elusive target sometimes!

-- ~Jim

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HammerSmith

257 posts in 444 days


#4 posted 11-11-2018 10:22 AM


Words of wisdom. I can t count the times I ve tried to deal with flaws too soon and made the situation worse. We could all channel a little bit of Tony from time-to-time.

Thanks for sharing.

- Rich

Yeah, me too Rich… it’s a tricky balance sometimes…. trying to make it “better” – only to make things worse…

Here’s another example of it;

I was working for a guy, doing commercial remodeling… One of my tasks for the day, was to put the bulletin board up in the break room….

My boss wanted me to use screws AND construction adhesive to hang the bulletin board, but that was ridiculous!

First of all, four screws into the studs was all it needed. The construction adhesive was ridiculous overkill, and I told him that.

But he was adamant. “just use the adhesive!”

I said, “But what if they decide to move it?”

Boss said “Just do it!”

So I did…

And then, a few days later, the customer decided he wanted to move it…. lmao…

The construction adhesive tore the paint off the wall, so now it needed mudwork. And sanding. And vacuuming the carpet. And primer. And then the whole friggin wall had to be painted again.

In my mind’s eye, I saw old Tony chuckling…

-- ~Jim

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HammerSmith

257 posts in 444 days


#5 posted 11-11-2018 10:39 AM

sorry for the duplicate post below… I don’t know how to delete this. Mods?

Words of wisdom. I can t count the times I ve tried to deal with flaws too soon and made the situation worse. We could all channel a little bit of Tony from time-to-time.

Thanks for sharing.

- Rich

Yeah, me too Rich… it s a tricky balance sometimes…. trying to make it “better” – only to make things worse…

Here s another example of it;

I was working for a guy, doing commercial remodeling… One of my tasks for the day, was to put the bulletin board up in the break room….

My boss wanted me to use construction adhesive AND screws to hang the bulletin board, but that was ridiculous!

First of all, four screws into the studs was all it needed. The construction adhesive was ridiculous overkill, and I told him that.

But he was adamant. “just use the adhesive!”

I said, “But what if they decide to move it?”

Boss said “Just do it!”

So I did…

And then the customer decided he wanted to move it…. lmao…

The construction adhesive tore the paint off the wall, so now it needed mudwork. And sanding. And vacuuming the carpet. And primer. And then the whole friggin wall had to be painted again.

In my mind s eye, I saw old Tony chuckling…

- HammerSmith


-- ~Jim

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shipwright

8290 posts in 3158 days


#6 posted 11-11-2018 02:49 PM

Good enough is a much maligned term. I always try to achieve “good enough” and if I’m diligent and careful I am rewarded and my work is …. good enough.
I cringe when people talk about it as if it meant settleing for less.
They just aren’t understanding the words. If in fact you settle for less than your best, you guessed it, ........it’s not “good enough”.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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Rich

4399 posts in 949 days


#7 posted 11-11-2018 02:53 PM


Good enough is a much maligned term. I always try to achieve “good enough” and if I’m diligent and careful I am rewarded and my work is …. good enough.

- shipwright

Paul, it’s all relative. Your “good enough” outshines my “best” any day of the week.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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LOW1

3 posts in 461 days


#8 posted 11-11-2018 03:04 PM

A good word and one that you still see in construction contracts is “workmanlike.” Hard to really define what it means but you will know it when you see it. Not necessarily pretty but fully functional and not sloppy

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Rich

4399 posts in 949 days


#9 posted 11-11-2018 03:09 PM


you will know it when you see it.

- LOW1

That’s how Supreme Court Justice Potter Steward defined porn.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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000

2859 posts in 1259 days


#10 posted 11-11-2018 03:28 PM

That brings to mind “Industry Standards” or “Commercially Acceptable”

I’ve messed up many a project trying to make it just a little better when I should have left “well enough” alone.

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MrRon

5432 posts in 3603 days


#11 posted 11-11-2018 06:03 PM

I’m sorry, but I don’t subscribe to the “good enough” philosophy. That is what makes the difference between a craftsman and a hack. When a house framer installs a stud that is 1/4” too short and calls that “good enough”, I cringe. Certainly house construction is not rocket science, but he should be able to do better than that. When speaking of precision vs “good enough”, I compare a carpenter from the U.S. and one from Japan. The Japanese use incredible precision in their construction, like joinery without nails or screws. The U.S. carpenter slaps wood together and hopes it passes inspection. This off course is not true for all carpenters. Carpenters may be forced to work fast and therefore make more mistakes that are just covered up and others are allowed to work at their own pace and turn out credible work. The latter costs much more; the difference in cost between a tract home and a custom home. I guess I just object to the term “good enough”. When I went to school a long time ago, “good enough” was not in our vocabulary. My family insisted that whatever I did, it had to be to the best of my ability. I don’t want my children and grand children to embrace such a philosophy.

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000

2859 posts in 1259 days


#12 posted 11-11-2018 06:09 PM

Ron, go back up and read shipwrights (post #6) explanation, he describes it the best.

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olegrump

97 posts in 582 days


#13 posted 11-11-2018 06:14 PM

Right up there with the old saw “When it starts looking good, don’t try to improve it”. A very hard lesson to learn for all of us.

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shipwright

8290 posts in 3158 days


#14 posted 11-11-2018 06:52 PM


I m sorry, but I don t subscribe to the “good enough” philosophy. That is what makes the difference between a craftsman and a hack. When a house framer installs a stud that is 1/4” too short and calls that “good enough”, I cringe. Certainly house construction is not rocket science, but he should be able to do better than that. When speaking of precision vs “good enough”, I compare a carpenter from the U.S. and one from Japan. The Japanese use incredible precision in their construction, like joinery without nails or screws. The U.S. carpenter slaps wood together and hopes it passes inspection. This off course is not true for all carpenters. Carpenters may be forced to work fast and therefore make more mistakes that are just covered up and others are allowed to work at their own pace and turn out credible work. The latter costs much more; the difference in cost between a tract home and a custom home. I guess I just object to the term “good enough”. When I went to school a long time ago, “good enough” was not in our vocabulary. My family insisted that whatever I did, it had to be to the best of my ability. I don t want my children and grand children to embrace such a philosophy.

- MrRon

Now this is exactly what makes me cringe. But still I agree with you. A sloppy workman calling something “good enough” does not make it so. Clearly what you refer to is not in fact not good enough. If it were good enough you would approve of it.

Thanks jbay!

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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lumbering_on

578 posts in 850 days


#15 posted 11-11-2018 10:11 PM


a corollary of that statement is
The enemy of good enough is better – which I have had to relearn too many times

- fly2low

In the military, I was taught to look for the 70% solution. The idea is since we don’t have perfect information, we can’t make perfect decisions, so you want to make your plans as flexible as possible. Although, it’s not a perfect fit to woodworking, the idea that you can’t make anything perfect, so make it a good as needed is an apt principle to live by.

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Rich

4399 posts in 949 days


#16 posted 11-11-2018 10:53 PM


In the military, I was taught to look for the 70% solution. The idea is since we don t have perfect information, we can t make perfect decisions, so you want to make your plans as flexible as possible. Although, it s not a perfect fit to woodworking, the idea that you can t make anything perfect, so make it a good as needed is an apt principle to live by.

- lumbering_on

You’re grossly abbreviating that 70% solution concept. The full principle is that an imperfect plan is better than a perfect plan when it’s too late. It refers to battle, not everyday projects. BTW, it’s a Marine Corp principle. I thought you were Canadian.

Nonetheless, I can’t think if anytime it might apply to woodworking. Since it’s rooted in the urgency of battle, if you get yourself into that position on a project, you’ve really screwed up.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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KYtoolsmith

76 posts in 220 days


#17 posted 11-11-2018 11:37 PM

MrRon has stated my feelings exactly. When ever I hear someone say “it’s good enough”, I have to think that they know it could have been better. All the true craftsmen I have known have gone the extra bit to make everything they did the best possible within the limits of their skill, tools, and purpose of the work. In my father’s words, “If you are to build or make something, make it the best example of your work, and sign it proudly, or don’t bother.”

My $.02. The Kentucky Toolsmith.

-- "Good enough" is just another way of saying "it could be better"...

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lumbering_on

578 posts in 850 days


#18 posted 11-12-2018 12:37 AM

You re grossly abbreviating that 70% solution concept. The full principle is that an imperfect plan is better than a perfect plan when it s too late. It refers to battle, not everyday projects. BTW, it s a Marine Corp principle. I thought you were Canadian.

Nonetheless, I can t think if anytime it might apply to woodworking. Since it s rooted in the urgency of battle, if you get yourself into that position on a project, you ve really screwed up.

- Rich

I’m an active RCAF officer, and it is neither a solely USMC principle, nor is it just a battle principle. We use it as a rule-of-thumb so that people don’t overthink a problem.

For the record, it’s also not when it’s too late, it’s the way I was taught to make my battle orders – along with the SMEAC method, of course.

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Rich

4399 posts in 949 days


#19 posted 11-12-2018 12:55 AM


I m an active RCAF member, and it is neither a solely USMC principle, nor is it just a battle principle. We use it as a way as a rule-of-thumb so that people don t overthink a problem.

- lumbering_on

OK, if you’re happy doing a 70% job in your woodworking, go for it. My customers expect a bit more from me. Even without customers, I’d demand more from myself.

Back to good enough. I think that means different things to different people as evidenced by the comments in this thread.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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lumbering_on

578 posts in 850 days


#20 posted 11-12-2018 01:00 AM


OK, if you re happy doing a 70% job in your woodworking, go for it. My customers expect a bit more from me. Even without customers, I d demand more from myself.

Back to good enough. I think that means different things to different people as evidenced by the comments in this thread.

- Rich

Does the word ‘incorrigible’ mean anything to you?

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Rich

4399 posts in 949 days


#21 posted 11-12-2018 01:17 AM


Does the word incorrigible mean anything to you?

- lumbering_on

Does the word dubious mean anything to you?

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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lumbering_on

578 posts in 850 days


#22 posted 11-12-2018 01:21 AM

Does the word dubious mean anything to you?

- Rich

That’s the thing about reality, Rich, it doesn’t matter what you believe. My life certainly doesn’t change because somebody on the Internet has no clue what the facts are.

However, I have a question, why is it you seem to have a huge problem getting along with people?

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Rich

4399 posts in 949 days


#23 posted 11-12-2018 01:32 AM


That s the thing about reality, Rich, it doesn t matter what you believe. My life certainly doesn t change because somebody on the Internet has no clue what the facts are.

However, I have a question, why is it you seem to have a huge problem getting along with people?

- lumbering_on

So now you choose an ad hominem attack? Dubious at best :)

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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lumbering_on

578 posts in 850 days


#24 posted 11-12-2018 01:38 AM

So now you choose an ad hominem attack? Dubious at best :)

- Rich

Actually, an ad hominem is only when you say someone is X and that they’re wrong because of it. But I’ll be happy to take a photo of my uniform and post it. :)

Edit: Just for the record. If you’re wondering why I’m upset, it’s because your posts seem to hint at Stolen Valour. Sorry, but it’s really the wrong day for that – not that there’s a right one.

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Rich

4399 posts in 949 days


#25 posted 11-12-2018 01:53 AM

I’ll stop now. This is far too easy. Besides, the original thread is far more interesting.

HammerSmith posted a very intriguing — and apparently controversial — thought. I’m with shipwright on this one. Good enough means it’s good. However, I can see where MrRon is coming from, that good enough means it’s shoddy, but can squeak by. His reference to passing inspection is a good one.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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Rich

4399 posts in 949 days


#26 posted 11-12-2018 02:04 AM


Edit: Just for the record. If you re wondering why I m upset, it s because your posts seem to hint at Stolen Valour. Sorry, but it s really the wrong day for that – not that there s a right one.

- lumbering_on

Huh? Where did I claim to have served?

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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lumbering_on

578 posts in 850 days


#27 posted 11-12-2018 02:12 AM


Huh? Where did I claim to have served?

- Rich

You never did, but you seemed to insulate that I haven’t. If you didn’t then I’m sorry I read it that way.

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Rich

4399 posts in 949 days


#28 posted 11-12-2018 02:19 AM


You never did, but you seemed to insulate that I haven t. If you didn t then I m sorry I read it that way.

- lumbering_on

No, I didn’t, and I apologize if it sounded like I did.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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lumbering_on

578 posts in 850 days


#29 posted 11-12-2018 02:27 AM


No, I didn t, and I apologize if it sounded like I did.

- Rich

Then I misread what you said. My apologies; it’s been a tough day, and I was probably letting off steam when I shouldn’t have.

Have a good night.

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000

2859 posts in 1259 days


#30 posted 11-12-2018 02:52 AM

Another thing that hasn’t been mentioned.
In business, not everything is a museum piece.

When you charge somebody for something you have to meet their expectations of quality,
compared to the price you are charging.

You can’t always charge the museum quality price, therefore you can’t always put in the time to make a museum quality piece.
Somewhere you have to determine, when is it “good enough” to meet the price you are charging?

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HammerSmith

257 posts in 444 days


#31 posted 11-12-2018 04:04 AM

Thanks for all the replies you guys. And I can see where everyone is coming from.

Let me start by saying, I’m not talking about passing off a piece of crap and calling it “Good Enough”.

In fact, as a finish carpenter who has been the “punch list guy” on many jobs, that’s one of my biggest pet peeves! The helpers and/or laborers who think they’re so fast; but they leave behind something that’s either no good or incomplete, is something that drives me nuts! ...some guys can mess more stuff up in an hour, than I can fix in a day. Man I could tell some stories…

But, on the other side, there’s “perfectionism”. Which is what I suffer from.. So I think of old Tony when I find myself getting carried away with perfection. There have been times over the decades where I tried to make something “a little better”, only to mess it all up and have to start over.

To me, “Good Enough” is a moving target. And it’s sublime. And it applies to everything.

For instance, cars have crumple zones. They could make a part stronger, but it’s strong enough already; and making it stronger would be a net loss. Same with something as simple as a bolt. The bolt fails before the female thread will strip and, that way, you only have to replace the bolt, instead of having to drill and tap the heads, or block, or whatever.

Someone mentioned Japanese craftsmen, and I couldn’t agree more. I love the Japanese style. The balance is everything. It’s sublime. None of the parts are stronger than they have to be, but all of the parts are “strong enough”.

——————————————

I was inspired to start this thread yesterday because I was having trouble with some semi-gloss Polyurethane.

The coat that I applied yesterday is a fail. It’s not good enough. And, even if I did try to mess with it some more, it still wouldn’t be good enough… If anything, I certainly would’ve made it worse…

...I guess I have a lot of sanding to do tomorrow… :/

Cheers,

-- ~Jim

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HammerSmith

257 posts in 444 days


#32 posted 11-12-2018 04:41 AM


MrRon has stated my feelings exactly. When ever I hear someone say “it s good enough”, I have to think that they know it could have been better. All the true craftsmen I have known have gone the extra bit to make everything they did the best possible within the limits of their skill, tools, and purpose of the work. In my father s words, ”If you are to build or make something, make it the best example of your work, and sign it proudly, or don t bother.”

My $.02. The Kentucky Toolsmith.

- KYtoolsmith

I agree with you 100% KYtoolsmith!

But there’s no such thing as “perfection”... There are always some slight imperfections somewhere, if you know where to look and how to look at it.

When you work on a thing, you’re so close to it that you know where every single little imperfection is. But, when someone else looks at that same thing, they would never see it.

That’s why, to me, it’s a tricky balance. I’m never satisfied. I always wish it was “better”.

-- ~Jim

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HammerSmith

257 posts in 444 days


#33 posted 11-12-2018 05:13 AM


I m sorry, but I don t subscribe to the “good enough” philosophy. That is what makes the difference between a craftsman and a hack. When a house framer installs a stud that is 1/4” too short and calls that “good enough”, I cringe. Certainly house construction is not rocket science, but he should be able to do better than that. When speaking of precision vs “good enough”, I compare a carpenter from the U.S. and one from Japan. The Japanese use incredible precision in their construction, like joinery without nails or screws. The U.S. carpenter slaps wood together and hopes it passes inspection. This off course is not true for all carpenters. Carpenters may be forced to work fast and therefore make more mistakes that are just covered up and others are allowed to work at their own pace and turn out credible work. The latter costs much more; the difference in cost between a tract home and a custom home. I guess I just object to the term “good enough”. When I went to school a long time ago, “good enough” was not in our vocabulary. My family insisted that whatever I did, it had to be to the best of my ability. I don t want my children and grand children to embrace such a philosophy.

- MrRon

Right on MrRon, I hear you!

I think we’re defining the term differently though…

When someone says a crap job is “good enough”, it pisses me off.

I started out as a framer, doing renovations on old houses in NJ. My boss (Bill Vitez) was well known for doing good work, and that’s why we were still busy, even after the economy slowed down… Bill was a great mentor too.. He led by example, and I would say he’s my “main” mentor… Even though we were mostly “just framing”, Bill taught the importance of “Plumb, level, square, and neat”...

But Bill died in 1991, so I worked on some different crews after that. ... At one point, I was on a framing crew, building tract houses. On that crew; an inch out of plumb on an eight foot wall, was called “good enough”... I always thought it was shoddy, but we sure were fast! With 5 guys, we would have a 1600 sq/ft, two story home, ready for roofers on the fifth day.

It’s like the designer’s triangle….
“Good, Fast, Cheap – You can only pick two”

-- ~Jim

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HammerSmith

257 posts in 444 days


#34 posted 11-12-2018 05:19 AM

.....

-- ~Jim

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fly2low

64 posts in 456 days


#35 posted 11-12-2018 05:27 AM

My sharing the statement “The enemy of good enough is perfect” comed from the perspective of
1) I am a perfectionist
2) there is NO such thing as perfect. I have seen plenty of “really good” but have never seen perfect

Knowing when to quit can be tricky

-- Rich Gig Harbor, WA

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HammerSmith

257 posts in 444 days


#36 posted 11-12-2018 05:40 AM



My sharing the statement “The enemy of good enough is perfect” comed from the perspective of
1) I am a perfectionist
2) there is NO such thing as perfect. I have seen plenty of “really good” but have never seen perfect

Knowing when to quit can be tricky

- fly2low

heheheh, sounds like we’re cut from the same cloth Rich

-- ~Jim

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KYtoolsmith

76 posts in 220 days


#37 posted 11-12-2018 10:01 AM

An additional thought; a few years ago I read a book on business management titled “Free, Perfect, and Now”. In a nutshell, the author makes the point that those are the three things any customer wants. Obviously, not possible… So a balance must be achieved. Of note, the author points out that perfect is defined by the customer, not the producer. But now, I have the luxury of being both the customer and the producer. So, “now” is not required… and “free” is relative…
Yes, I am a bit of a perfectionist, and I realize it is not possible. But I continue to try… I enjoy the pursuit of something better than “good enough”. Why? Because I can!

Cheers! I love the fact that we can share our views. There is no right, no wrong… Perhaps that itself is “Good enough”!

KYToolsmith

-- "Good enough" is just another way of saying "it could be better"...

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shipwright

8290 posts in 3158 days


#38 posted 11-12-2018 02:51 PM

You do realize that what is being so ardently debated here is not whether or not shoddy workmanship should be considered acceptable but the personal definition of the term “ good enough” that each of us has when we use it.

To reiterate mine, good enough is when I don’t believe I can’t do any better and that trying will likely be counterproductive.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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DS

3138 posts in 2780 days


#39 posted 11-12-2018 03:29 PM

Jim Collins says that “Good is the enemy of Great”.
I agree – though I say, “Good Enough is the enemy of Great”.
Perfect doesn’t exist, but Great sure does.

To me, “good enough” means just passable. Great is what I usually charge for and what I strive to achieve with every job.
A client can get “good enough” for far less money from my supposed competitors down the street. If that’s what they want, they can have it.

When they want something great, they know where to go for it – Right here.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

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MrRon

5432 posts in 3603 days


#40 posted 11-12-2018 03:54 PM

It appears that people have different perceptions of what perfect means. It is subjective. What is perfect to one person is different to another.

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HammerSmith

257 posts in 444 days


#41 posted 11-18-2018 01:52 AM



An additional thought; a few years ago I read a book on business management titled “Free, Perfect, and Now”. In a nutshell, the author makes the point that those are the three things any customer wants. Obviously, not possible… So a balance must be achieved. Of note, the author points out that perfect is defined by the customer, not the producer. But now, I have the luxury of being both the customer and the producer. So, “now” is not required… and “free” is relative…
Yes, I am a bit of a perfectionist, and I realize it is not possible. But I continue to try… I enjoy the pursuit of something better than “good enough”. Why? Because I can!

Cheers! I love the fact that we can share our views. There is no right, no wrong… Perhaps that itself is “Good enough”!

KYToolsmith

- KYtoolsmith

First of all, thanks again to all you guys for your thoughts on this subject…

KYToolsmith, that sounds like a real interesting book! ”Free Perfect and Now” Lol, that’s a great title too! ... it reminds me of a story an old friend told me… He was discussing the price of a job, and the customer kept trying to talk him down on the price… He finally got fed up and said; “I’ll tell you what, I’ll get up early tomorrow, load up my truck, and I’ll come over and do the whole damn thing for free! How’s that?” ... Lol…

But getting back to the subject, I really like this line you posted;

~”Of note, the author points out that perfect is defined by the customer, not the producer.”~

That’s some truth right there for sure!

The doors that I was working on when I started this thread, are almost 80 years old. I repaired and refinished them once before, about 20 years ago. So it was time to do them again.

I struggled with the Spar Urethane this time (I hate that stuff). My attempt at doing it with a brush was an utter failure in my opinion. I wound up sanding/leveling all the brush-marks and spraying it with rattle cans.

Even after all that, there were still some parts that I wished were better. In my yard, looking at it with the light just right, I could still see some places that I wish were a little better…

But now that they’re in place, you can’t look at them from that same angle. And the light is different too.

Yesterday, the lady was showing them to a friend, and she said “He made them perfect”... Lol, I immediately thought of your comment above! Thanks again!

~”perfect is defined by the customer, not the producer.”~

Cheers,

-- ~Jim

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