Why aiming for perfection can reduce innovation

When the Perth Arena was being built, it was beset by criticism – “This the ugliest building in Perth.” “What were the architects thinking?” “It’s even worse than the the Convention Centre!”

The months went by and the building gradually took shape and yes it did look very odd, especially to those driving past on the freeway.

But then, when it was finally finished, all those critics who went down to see it, ate their words and instead praised the building as being of extraordinary design.

Innovation can look a bit different and the brain doesn’t like that. It much prefers familiar patterns.
And there was a good chance that the Perth Arena could have ended up in the “worst designed” pile because not all innovation works or is successful. But it is the willingness to look outside the box, to take a risk of doing something a bit different or a bit wacky, that some of the greatest innovative ideas can arise.

I recently read a great article by Andrew Razeghi in “Fast Company” discussing why seeking perfection can be the antithesis of innovation.

He proposes is that it is our ability to embrace imperfection and to learn from it that is what drives real innovation. He draws our attention to the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi which represents the acceptance of imperfection. This is apparently derived from Buddhist teachings, that includes the recognition of asymmetry, irregularity and modesty as attributes of beauty.

When we first think of a new idea, it will often be in a very crude or un-evolved state. It is by working on that idea, that any creases or dings can be resolved to ultimately end up with a well thought through, evaluated idea that has a greater chance of getting off the ground.

Any start up company or change in policy will involve contributions of differences of ideas and opinions and examination of many various options to produce the brightest outcome.
Goals, new ideas and new concepts are never hatched intact, but retaining an open mindset, one that is not fazed by imperfections or actual failure will be more likely to produce more innovative thinking that ultimately might lead to the perfect result.

If you liked this post, click to share