Sometimes good enough really is good enough

We’ve all grown up hearing the maxim “If it is worth doing, then it is worth doing well”. How does that reconcile with XP’s “Do the simplest thing that could possibly work?” One applies to quality while the other applies to scope. We seek quality components within the constraints of the whole.

I started using “good enough really is” as a ward against my streak of perfectionism. It served as a reminder that a task was done when it satisfied its role within the whole, not when it became an exemplar to live forever. With the cult of reuse bearing down on me, it was a hard lesson to learn.

When I participated in an enterprise software startup, I realized it applied to companies as well. You always want first class people, but you don’t always want first class departments. Our startup needed to provide first class consulting services. But it didn’t need a first class consulting group. Consulting existed to deploy seats, not to become tied up in long term engagements.

Of course, “the simplest thing“ goes a step beyond. It reminds us that while we may think we know what’s important, we don’t really know until we observe it as part of the whole. All in all, a better maxim than mine. But I learned “good enough really is” the hard way, I think I’ll keep it.

Back to What I could have learned from XP.