Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Is "Good Enough" Good Enough?

Got in a li'l tiff with my son yesterday. He had completed a minor school assignment but it looked kind of sloppy to my wife and me. We asked him to re-do it; it would take all of 5 minutes to complete - but when you're 13 years old and your 101 buddies are blasting away on IM, 5 minutes is a precious commodity.

He didn't want to do it. It was, he said, "Good enough."

Is "good enough" good enough?

I explained to my son that globalization and the Internet were allowing millions of talented and dedicated people worldwide to compete for the same jobs (by the way, Esquire recently published a hilarious article on this subject). I described the scads of people I'd met over the years who toiled away in thankless jobs because somewhere along the way they had decided that "good enough" was good enough.

But he is 13 - a tanned, blonde, athletic and whipsmart lil sonnuvagun. You can't talk sense to a tanned, blonde, athletic and whipsmart lil sonnuvagun. So I shut off the computer and marched his butt back to the dining room table to re-do the assignment, just because I said so. And feeling so damn old as I did it. ;)

Anyway, this got me thinking. A few weeks ago, an old friend was describing how her start-up would allow people to collaborate more effectively, and get past the functional evils of Outlook. I've handled my fair shar of groupware accounts and sighed, "Lady, it's a nice vision, but sometimes 'good enough' is good enough. Flossing your teeth will make your gums and teeth strong and healthy - but it's kind of a hassle; for most people, a session with the toothbrush is good enough...Same goes for Outlook..."

I am a bit ashamed, now, in retrospect. "Good enough" is NEVER good enough!

"Good enough" won't put a man on the moon.

"Good enough" won't cure polio - or cancer - or the common cold.

"Good enough" won't allow us to compete in a global economy.

"Good enough" is for losers.

Hmm...maybe that's how I should have explained it to my son.


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