Perfection v/s Progress – You Choose!?

Progress v_sPerfection(1)

Your blog posts are never perfect” she said

“What do you mean?” I asked

“I almost always find some mistakes in them – spelling, grammar, sentence construction, etc.. They can be better.” She said

“Hmm.. OK. Noted. So what do you want me to do?” I asked

“Don’t publish till it is perfect, or if you don’t have time – Ask someone else to make it perfect” she said

Why is perfection important?” I asked

Because that is the ultimate goal” she said

The above is a conversation I had recently with a very good friend of mine, someone who is my best critic (for writing and life), a trusted adviser and diligent blog reader.

It got me thinking, and of course going back to read my blogs. They read fine to me. But yes! Like with anything in life, there was scope for improvement. BUT.. That incremental improvement comes at a cost – which is my time. And time is precious for me as a working mother. And I’m sure it is for you too, in whatever you do!

So whenever I publish a blog post, the effort is mostly “time-boxed”. For e.g: If I decide to write a post in 30 minutes, that’s carved in stone. When the time is up, I review it and publish it. I don’t even attempt to make it perfect. Yes! I made that choice to let go of perfection for every blog post. And that choice has come at a price – which is feedback like the above, or may be even losing some readers along the way. The best part is that it has enabled my growth and progress as a blogger, writer and social media influencer. It has also helped me be regular in posting because had I strived for perfection, I might simply not have been able to post so consistently.

So, here’s the thing about Perfection – It takes time. It takes a lot of energy. It can drain you. And the other thing about perfection is that it is almost always relative. It is in the eyes of the beholder. It is almost always time-bound. Nothing is truly perfect forever. At least, in my view.

I know this because sometime in the distinct past – I used to be a perfectionist. Not in everything, but things which were important to me. Over time, I recognized that it was not realistically sustainable. May be it was not a virtue meant for me. Whatever! I let-go of it, and have made peace with that choice.

And just as I was writing this post, I came across this video from Apple CEO, Mr Tim Cooks in which he mentions that perfection is core to what Apple creates. So if perfection was not the ethos of Apple, we’d probably not experience the best of what Apple had to offer. And I also know from sure that Apple as a company has made progress over the years – in terms of growth, innovation, market share. So progress and perfection can co-exist!

So, I’ll end with the fact that we probably need both progress and perfection – in people, in life, in businesses and in the world. Just that whether they can co-exist in your context is something that is an individual choice and preference.

Here and now, I still choose progress over perfection.That is the only way it will work for me in this phase of life.

What about you? Leave a comment to let me know

First published here


Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
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Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”


Thought Provoking Quotes on INNOVATION

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” BY Steve Jobs

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” BY Milan Kundera

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” BY William Pollard

“Art begins in imitation and ends in innovation.” BY Mason Cooley

“I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” BY Bill Gates

“Energy innovation is not a nationalistic game.” BY Bill Gates

“The five essential entrepreneurial skills for success are concentration, discrimination, organization, innovation and communication.” BY Michael Faraday

“The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.” BY Robert Iger

“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” BY Albert Einstein

“Innovation is the ability to convert ideas into invoices.” BY L. Duncan

“Innovation is serendipity, so you don’t know what people will make.” BY Tim Berners Lee

Session on Corporate Innovation

Yesterday (14 May 2013), I had the opportunity to conduct a session on “Corporate Innovation” to a diverse audience (3 to 10+ years experience). It was an interesting, and interactive session. The one strong view which was echoed from the participants was that there is VERY LITTLE INNOVATION happening at the ground level within most organizations!

Sharing below the key messages from my session

Overview to Corporate Innovation

  1. Innovation has evolved from “Nice to Do” To “Good to Do” to “Must Do”. Innovate to survive
  2. There is no “universal / standard definition” of Innovation
  3. Innovation within an organization can happen at any time, at any place and from anyone. Innovation can occur at any level within an organization – from entry level to executive management
  4. Innovation can be of technology, process, business, delivery methodology, product or user experience
  5. What the wise have to say about Innovation. To read a set of interesting Innovation Quotes, click here
  6. Focus of Corporate Innovation is how to “Simplify” / “Solve problems” / “Make things easier and better” / “Improve efficiencies” for internal (employees) and external (customers , partners, suppliers, vendors) stakeholders. Of course, corporate innovation initiatives focus on “Reducing costs” / “Improving Revenues”

* Innovation Life Cycle : Every innovation typically follows a life cycle as depicted below


* Importance of Corporate Innovation

  1. Getting employees to “Think”, “Learn”, “Reflect”, “Experience”, “Comprehend” and “Apply” : Build a culture of innovation
  2. Key Differentiator ; Competitive Advantage in the market
  3. Additional “Revenue Potential” ; Non-Linearity
  4. Better Customer Engagement
  5. Market Positioning & Thought Leadership

* Lessons from my Corporate Innovation Journey

  1. There are three distinct phases in the Innovation Life Cycle and each requires a different mind set
  2. Your idea need not be unique; How you position your innovation makes all the difference
  3. The Business Plan is just a baseline plan
  4. When you start the GTM [Go-To-Market] activities can make all the difference
  5. The first customer is the most crucial in your journey to success
  6. Corporate Innovation should be a priority from the top
  7. Internal communication and collaboration is critical to succeed

Extracted from paper published in the IIMB Summer Magazine (2012)

Innovation Quotes – Worth a read!

Innovation is the creation of the new or the re-arranging of the old in a new way – Michael Vance.

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower – Steve Jobs.

Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity – Michael Porter.

Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure – Albert Einstein.

Innovation by definition will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires “courageous patience” – Warren Bennis.

Innovation is the process of turning ideas into manufacturable and marketable form – Watts Humprey.

Just as energy is the basis of life itself, and ideas the source of innovation, so is innovation the vital spark of all human change, improvement and progress – Ted Levitt.

Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it – Steve Jobs.

“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” — Dr. Linus Pauling

In search of research: My tryst with academia

This guest post is authored by PAVAN SONI – Author Bio is at the end of the post

We all are purpose maximizers. For a lucky few, the purpose is struck very early in their lives and for others, it remains elusive for years. I was fortunate to lie somewhere in between, for the calling in life came when I still have a few years to realize it. The ‘search’ for the calling in life or the purpose landed me to the field of ‘research’ and am I happy? Oh yes indeed. So here’s my little story of the transition from the corporate world to academics, and the intent remains to inspire a few readers to join the exciting world of academics.   

Academia was never a stranger to me. I started teaching informally from the age of 15 and then formal teaching followed soon. Even while in the corporate arena, first with Titan and then with Wipro, I kept myself abreast with reading, writing and teaching. For almost last 7 years now, I have consistently been teaching over the weekends and that umbilical cord in many ways made the decision to shift to academia rather smooth. Now here at IIM Bangalore, looking back I can only ‘connect the dots’ as the great artist Steve Jobs quipped and be surprised that how life crafts itself. Here’re five insights that I gathered through my career in corporate and in academia, and I wish to share with a hope that these would resonate with you.

Grab half-chances: When I first entered a B-School as a teacher, I was 22 and most students, including the fellow teachers, didn’t take me seriously. But it was a half-chance bestowed on to me and by having taken that I could at least get started. The institute wasn’t the tier-1 or tier-2 category, nor did I have any formal experience of teaching MBA students. Thereafter, I sniffed opportunities where I could teach, mostly for free and then with some honorarium. Location was no bar, class-size was no bar, institute’s ranking was not bar; the only thing that mattered was that I had to sharpen my axe. From that one institute, today I have taught at over 25 MBA institutes across India and abroad, and can never ever relax on the virtue of taking those half-chances. Remember, opportunities don’t come your way wrapper. You need to unearth those.

Hone multiple affiliations: We are all worth more than what we do currently. Most of us tend to limit ourselves to the workplace and the chores that we are assigned. Our friends, our pastime or mannerisms and even thinking then get shaped by, if not limited by, the workplace. One early lesson I gathered while interacting with fellows from outside of India was the virtue of honing multiple affiliations. Affiliations here mean being actively associated with, or better still contribute to, multiple avenues in life. One of which could be the workplace, and then being associated with a social cause or teaching or writing or composing or painting or something where one would draw inspiration and insights from. Remembers, you weren’t ‘born’ to work in one organization! Life offers many more possibilities and capabilities, and let’s make the most of any given moment. For me it was reading, writing, and teaching.

Live a debt-free life: One of the plaques of the times we live in is the virus of EMIs. As soon as someone gets a job, the tendency is to live beyond means. Buying a car, booking a house and then swiping credit cards. The biggest challenge with taking loans and paying EMIs is that the risk taking propensity gets doused. Once having taken a loan, the person has to work just to repay the amount, no matter how much the person is enjoying the job or adding value to it. The decision to shun a corporate job and getting into a student’s life became easy with having no debt on my balance sheet. Not buying a home or car wasn’t a great loss and also I was saved from the potential risk of not able to shape my career. I can surely buy a better model of car or a bigger house perhaps four years from now, but by then it would perhaps be too late for me to do my PhD. Life is about living, not accumulating.

Balance rigor with relevance: The first realization that happened to me after coming down to IIM was the chasm that exists between theory and practice. Our doctoral students and teachers here possess significant body of knowledge on how firms should be best run, while our corporates learn by committing mistakes! If only the knowledge that lies in the academia be made accessible and amicable to be adopted by the world that runs the economy, the mutual purpose could be justified. Unlike physical sciences, the virtue of social sciences and management education is as good as its application. Having said that, one can’t compromise on rigor, for the work has to stand the scrutiny of peers and pass the test of time. So, regardless of whether you are in corporate or academia, the delicate balance of rigor and relevance in an imperative, more so in academia where it’s our responsibility to offer actionable insights.

Remember that your network is your net-worth: The bigger our ambition is, the greater is the realization that larger goals require even larger contributions. Solitary genius or lone inventors are only limited to the realms of tales or urban legends. In the world of management research and practice, collaboration is the key, and this comes with honing an active network. My network with academics helped me get into the domain of rigor and the network with practitioners and entrepreneurs would help me navigate back into relevance. I am not talking of count on the Facebook or LinkedIn, but the count that counts. One where novel ideas could be bounced and collaboration could happen to give shape to them. Nurture your network and prune it to a purpose, for your network is your net-worth.

The first year is over at the fellow program here at IIMB and in the last one year, I literally drank from the hose. There are at least three more years to go. I am working hard, but surprisingly am not feeling tired! As I am working for myself and am sure while doing so, would be able to contribute to the discipline of research, teaching and practice. Amen!

Pavan Soni is an Innovation Evangelist by profession and a teacher by passion. He is currently a Research Fellow at IIM Bangalore. More on him at

The 7 Treasured Lessons from Corporate Innovation Experiences

I’ve been part of different corporate innovation initiatives from 2008 till date. And during this tenure, the most noteworthy change is that corporate innovation has transitioned from “Nice to Do” to “Good to Do” to “Must Do”…

Along this journey,
• I have had the opportunity to play a diverse set of roles and shouldered varied responsibilities – The key ones being a Business Owner to a Project Manager to a Business / Process Analyst to a Marketing / GTM (Go-To-Market) Specialist to Solution Specialist to Requirements Specification Owner
• I have interacted with a diverse set of individuals – internal and external to the organization {partners, analysts, customers (Diverse domains, Diverse positions in the organizational hierarchy [starting from the CEO to end-users] and from different parts of the globe}
• I have been involved in diverse kinds of innovation projects – from business to technology to process; each with a different team composition (2 to 20)

And the bottom line is this – Each of these initiatives achieved a different level of success.

How do you define the success of a corporate innovation?
The answer is simple and straight forward: The innovation initiative should generate the promised Return on Investment. If not, it is usually considered a failure in the business sense.

Going purely by this definition, I’d have to confess that some of the corporate innovation initiatives that I’ve been a part of were SUCCESSFUL and some were FAILURES…

Did we have cool ideas? Sure – We did!
Did we have a grand vision? Sure – We did!
Did we have a great team? Sure – We did!
Did we build what we set out to? Sure – We did!
Did we win business? Sure – We did!
Did we impact the organizations brand image in a positive way? Sure – We did!
Most importantly, Did we LEARN, GROW and EVOLVE? Sure – We did!

In this article, I will list the 7 TREASURED Lessons from the experiences in CORPORATE INNOVATIONS that I was a part of:
1) There are three distinct phases in the Innovation Life Cycle and each requires a different mind set
2) Your idea need not be unique; How you position your innovation makes all the difference
3) The Business Plan is just a baseline plan
4) When you start the GTM [Go-To-Market] activities can make all the difference
5) The first customer is the most crucial in your journey to success
6) Corporate Innovation should be a priority from the top
7) Internal communication and collaboration is critical to succeed

For full reading, refer to my artcile in the IIMB Alumni Magazine | Summer 2012 (pages 22 – 25)

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