Flaws in perfection: Fountains, pumpkins, plastic flowers, ancient rugs and Powerpoint presentations ~ Brand Mix

Monday, October 27, 2008

Flaws in perfection: Fountains, pumpkins, plastic flowers, ancient rugs and Powerpoint presentations

What can fountains, pumpkins, plastic flowers, ancient rugs and PowerPoint presentations tell us about perfection? Perhaps nothing. We'll see.

1) FountainsThis fountain is inside my "sandwich zone," so I've walked past it many times. And in all those times, it's never been working properly. Often, it's simply turned off but, even when it's on, the intended, smooth hemisphere effect is ruined because several nozzles are out of alignment spraying jets of water out in the wrong direction. (Hopefully, you can get the idea from the photograph.)
Lesson: Ideas which work only if perfectly executed are risky. Ideas that allow room for some deviation or error may work out better.

2) Pumpkins and plastic flowers It's incredible what people can pumpkin-carve. Just as an example, our Sunday paper had designs of Obama and McCain so people can carve the candidate of their choice. But have you noticed that artificial pumpkins (the ones used for lights or trick or treat buckets) usually have very basic designs? Why? If they were too elaborate they'd look less realistic. Or, take plastic flowers. They are often made with deliberate flaws. With some dead leaves, brown smudges and other imperfections they look less fake. (See here if you want to order some.)
Lesson: Trying too hard when you haven't got the real stuff will only make matters worse.

Ancient rugs and PowerPoint presentations
There's a tradition among rug and carpet makers over the ages from the Persians to the Navajos of making intentional mistakes. There is some dispute about the reason why but one theory is that they wanted to let evil spirits escape through the errors in their work. That's the theory closest to the reason why I used to include intentional mistakes in PowerPoint presentations being read by supervising micromanagers (in past careers, I hasten to add). I found that the strategic placement of a few deliberate errors gave such people the something to correct that they so badly needed. It helped improve their spirits and left my presentation more or less intact. A win all the way round.
Lesson: A dose of imperfection cures many ills.

What else do we know? We know we can learn from our mistakes and we know that fear of mistakes can strangle productivity. Perfection, it seems, isn't always all it's cracked up to be.

5 comments:

The Purloined Letter said...

Your analysis reminds me of why I think college cafeterias always serve such lousy food: If the food is bad, students will complain about the food. If it is good, they'll complain about something far more central and important. So it is about protection after all! Interesting post.

Martin Bishop said...

I have a similar story. One of our teachers at school told me (just before graduation) that the reason for all the petty rules was to have us complain about them rather than anything more important.

sabera said...
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sabera said...
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The meaning of PERFECT (Ethics) said...

Point of view of Perfection.

Read more at http://paidcritique.blogspot.com/2011/05/meaning-of-perfect-ethics.html

Think if you really want it.

 
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