My wife, Tricia, and I are renovating an apartment in Chicago. Technically, Tricia is renovating it and she is very good at this. She is also experienced as this is our third such project in Chicago. Tricia has a true designer’s eye but she like things to be Perfect or close to it.

The construction industry, where I spent much of my working career, is not Perfect. It uses imperfect terms for aspects of construction like carpentry which can be Rough versus Finish. And every construction contract is usually subject to endless change orders which always seem to double the initial cost estimate you thought you were spending.             Not Perfect.

This got me thinking about some of the questions that young people often ask me about their jobs. Sometimes they struggle to gather all the data possible to make a decision. Sometimes they even miss a critical or strategic opportunity due to trying to make a Perfect decision.

My thoughts on this need for Perfection go along these lines:

-a passing grade in school is a 60%, an “A” usually is around 90%

-the CPA Exam is one of, if not, the hardest professional exam with over a 50% fail rate. Yet the average passing score for successful candidates is only about 75% today.

-in my own career, especially in the frequent financial crises my companies were in, if I knew 70 to 80% of the relevant facts, I felt very lucky and did not hesitate to make a decision. There is really no time to try to be Perfect in a crisis.

In this age of endless data, people feel pressure to try to gather and analyze all they can. But “data” and useful “information” are too very different matters. A recent story in the Wall Street Journal was about how the role of Chief Marketing person in retail has changed from someone with good, gut instincts to people who can crunch massive amounts of data. This has lead to the observation that many large, retail stores all look the same regardless of which chain. This may not make them more profitable, let alone Perfect.

To me, the need for timely decisions in our fast changing world takes precedence over the often mistaken need for Perfection in our often imperfect world. Sometimes experience and a gut feel with partial data is the best and fastest course of action.

This Blog draft had the least corrections ever from my proofreader and wife, Tricia. As close to Perfection as I am going to get!