Is perfection really perfect? Many business leaders think so.
Ask any MBA graduate: Every great business requires perfected repetition. Work patterns that can be timed to the second and repeated forever: Consistent production, consistent marketing. Rinse and repeat.
A perfect business is a well-oiled machine (often quite literally), and a marvelous feat. Read all about building systems in E-Myth: Revisited, a wonderful book.
But there are a few big downsides to this thinking.
"Perfect" businesses are often the very things we hate the most. They're the jobs we can't wait to leave. Creativity is irrelevant, people are labor hours. And nothing. ever. changes. And no "perfect" business can last forever: even the best systems devolve into outdated irrelevancy over time.
Enter stage left...a new handmade industry.
Like a lot of new economy folks, I want a balance of consistency and creativity, aka the joie de vivre that gets you up in the morning. Although I implement consistency through manufacturing processes, I choose to evolve the business direction, opportunities, and products.
I do this with intention.
I know myself well enough to understand that if I waited for this business to be perfect...it still wouldn't exist! I would be tinkering away on the perfect formula, or the perfect photos, or the perfect logo tagline...making myself more miserable every day, and wasting today's opportunities.
Imperfection is the essence of creativity: a full-hearted openness to the unknown and unfinished.
A balanced creative business (aka, an "imperfect" one) is a deliberate choice to evolve the big stuff over time. A choice to be responsive, open-minded, and alert. And a trust that it will work out.
This kind of approach to business can feel hard to some folks, and I think it has a huge correlation to a basic understanding of "creativity." Many of us believe that we aren't "creative" at all. In choosing to say we aren't creative, we aren't just denying ourselves artistic skill. More fundamentally, we are denying ourselves a type of action or work. Creativity is way of perceiving activity, work and life. It's a looseness and lightness, exercised in deeds.
A creative business only works with one key ingredient: relationships that accept imperfection.
What does this mean, to accept imperfection? It means sharing ideas without judgement or shame. It means being able to talk openly and warmly about "mistakes" (whatever that may be). It means trying something new. It means being unafraid of losing structure. To listen, speak and trust. Of course, a relationship that accepts imperfection is not an unhealthy relationship, and it doesn't accept ineptitude. It simply allows us to be as we are: human.
This has been a huge lesson for me. When the People's Soap Company launched, I learned how to trust my creative process. But after the business grew, and I couldn't keep doing it all myself, I learned how to trust in creative relationships. How to trust my teams, how to see my customers as my true partners, and how to open myself to receive more. I'm still learning these things. But I marvel at how far I've already come.
Your feedback helps me more deeply than ever before.
Please email me anytime at Hello@PeoplesSoap.com with your opinions, ideas, you name it!
Let's be our naturally imperfect selves...together.