When is "Good Enough" Good Enough?

My friend and colleague Rob Pitzer at the Smithsonian Institution asked me a great question: "How do you deal with the temptation to keep upgrading your website, when "good enough" would suggest you stop and focus elsewhere?"

This is an issue that we all deal with: How do we know what we've got is good enough and that we can move on? Believe it or not, there's an easy way to answer that, but most organizations won't know the answer. Simply ask yourself: "Has our site (or database, or meeting, or program) achieved its initial objectives?"

Ah, but what were our initial objectives? There's the rub. Because in most cases, whether its programs, products, websites, or databases, the initial objectives were never clearly stated or agreed upon. And without a measurable objective, there's no way of knowing if "we're there."

To answer Rob's question, I would ask "What were the objectives of the website, and have they been accomplished?" Was the purpose of the website simply to communicate information, like a brochure? Was it to allow consumers to buy things online? Was it to allow users to customize their experience?

Once we settle on the objectives, we then have to agree to measurements that prove we've reached those objectives. If the objective was to allow consumers to buy things online, then either they can or they cannot. And if they can, is the experience a good one or a bad one? If it's a bad one, we may need to refine the objective, so that it reads "allow the consumer to buy things online in fewer than four steps."

Without measurable objectives, we can't really say if we've achieved what we've set out to do. And we'll never know if good enough is really good enough.

About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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