The Peril of Perfectionism explained by the News Diamond.

Paul Bradshaw's News Diamond

We all know how perfectionism can paralyse. I suspect it can be more damaging for large voluntary organisations than smaller ones. David Brazeal writes about this as it relates to organisations and social media:

When you’re printing 5,000 slick handouts, it makes sense to write, and share with colleagues, and rewrite, and proofread, and rewrite again, until you’ve eliminated all potential mistakes. The trouble is that every rewrite by a different person in your organization sucks a little bit of the human voice out of the message. And eventually you’re left with something slick and shiny and pretty — but impersonal. New media tools don’t have to be this way.

His comments are off the back of a by Anna Farmery (direct links not working) in which she urges users to:

  • Be willing to try new ideas…test them, try them, see if they work – if not, you can always change it.
  • People love to be part of a company, a team that are willing to embrace new ideas, encourage new thinking….they can forgive imperfection, they rarely forgive slowness or apathy.
  • People who work with you want to work for a human being, part of being human being is making a few mistakes. As long as you own up, as long as you are honest…people will stay with you. Imperfection can be engaging!
  • When you are wanting to move forward, you will need to take risks. If you spend too much time looking for the perfect answer…then in the meantime, the question will probably have changed!

This is hard for bureaucracies but often second nature for small voluntary organsations and certainly community groups, both of which live on the nervous energy of habitual improvisation.

One way to help understand may be with the wonderful new work being done by Paul Bradshaw. He frames the future of information (journalism) as a diamond – but the most critical point he makes is that future news will never be finished, it will always be a fluctuating collaboration between public, editor and author.