This is the last in a series of tips from my book, Put Your Data to Work: 52 Tips and Techniques for Effectively Managing Your Database. I’ve been asked by several people which of the tips are my favorites. So this series of blog posts focuses on five of them. Each of these tips is reproduced verbatim from the book.
Tip # 7 – Pursue success, not perfection
I first heard this phrase from consulting guru Alan Weiss. As humans we can never be perfect, so what is the point of pursuing perfection? We should be pursuing success, in our lives, and with our databases. Databases are designed, developed, and used by humans. By their very
nature, they will not be perfect. And the longer you demand perfection from your database systems, the longer you will feel dissatisfied with your data management systems.
Pursuing success means understanding that your data will never be 100% accurate. It means acknowledging that errors will be made. And it means setting realistic expectations for which processes can be automated and which will always require some manual effort.
For example, you’ll never have 100 percent accurate contact information for your members. But what is “successful”? Do your members move a lot, or not very often? If your primary members are college students, they move a lot, and having 60 percent accurate physical addresses may be considered good. On the other hand, if your members are higher educational institutions, which rarely move, perhaps 95 percent accuracy is a better target. Your organization’s membership and culture will help determine what is successful.
But ultimately it means accepting that being successful means you’re better than you were the day before, and you’re continuing to seek improvement in all that you do.