I had a great conversation yesterday with a friend and former colleague who’d just come out of a design review with execs in his company. It’s a big company, as tech companies go. They’d kind of gotten their asses kicked by the execs because the design wasn’t right. Phrases like “that wasn’t so bad” and “it’s good enough” were heard. My friend was like “Are you kidding? We got our asses kicked! What we did isn’t good enough”.
Especially in a medium-to-large size company, it’s really easy to cough up that “it’s good enough” phrase, and not really take ownership of a product like it’s really yours. And in a company like that, people who really do take ownership stand out like a pro athlete at a high school game. Be one of those people.
I was reflecting on what a powerful phrase “this isn’t good enough” is. It’s not directed at anyone personally; it’s focused on the work, not the people; it holds out the promise that the work CAN be good, it just isn’t yet. And finally, it establishes that judging the quality of work, and improving it, is everyday business.
If you’re the one saying it, it establishes you as somebody who gives a damn. (Maybe a “difficult” someone, but that’s ok).
If you’re the recipient of “This isn’t good enough”, the proper response, most likely, is “Thank you”. For it will make you better, if you listen.