Sunday, April 14, 2024
CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Advisory - Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good

CEO Advisory

Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good

Peter Baines

If we wait until we have all of the answers to all of the possible questions there is a good chance we will miss the opportunity that is before us or one of our competitors will seize the position of dominance.  

Standing in the grounds of the temple Wat Yan Yao, I recall a conversation that one of Australia’s leading forensic pathologist had.  Overlooking the decomposing bodies of 3500 people he commented “all we can do here is a token effort”.  To a leading forensic expert who had dedicated decades to this area, the task before him appeared beyond that which was achievable.  However, with action comes clarity and of the 5395 bodies that would ultimately be recovered, only 400 of those would never be identified.  

I would spend 2005, involved in the international identification efforts of those who lost their lives in Thailand following the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004.  I was either on deployment in Thailand or working back in Australia preparing teams for future deployments.  As a career forensic specialist within the NSW Police my work had involved the presenting of evidence based on forensic certainty.  The stakes were too high that “good enough” could never suffice.  If it wasn’t exact or perfect then it was left out. 

To prepare for challenges, we will test and train, plan and prepare and run simulation and scenario training.  To ensure engagement of our teams in such training we need to ensure the scenarios are reasonably foreseeable, because if they are not we risk losing engagement.  But when the actual challenge exceeds far beyond what you have trained for that is the time when Leadership Matters.  

In challenges that are beyond anything we could have imagined the rules, the procedures and the policies guide us but the big decisions will be made by the leaders who have the courage to make the difficult decisions that are needed.  The Australian leaders would hold many of the key International leadership positions in the Thailand operation because of our actions and reactions and response to the challenges before us.  

Making no decision for fear of making the wrong decision is worse than making a wrong decision.  Holding out for the perfect situation with certainty of our actions will see us miss many opportunities.  

The learnings I took from the field of crisis response through various countries including Bali, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Japan would equip me well in the establishment of the charity Hands Across the Water.  I met a group of 32 children in August of 2005, who had all those their families and homes as a result of the Boxing Day tsunami and were living in a tent within the grounds of a temple.  The tent wasn’t a temporary structure it was there home.

I realised I couldn’t change what had happened, but it was within my power to change what happened next. 

In making the decision to do something to support these children, I couldn’t have embraced something I knew less about than starting or running a charity.  It is with certainty almost twenty years on that if I had waited until I had all of the answers to all of the possible questions, if I had waited until the time was right to start the charity, then nothing would have happened.  

From starting the charity with nothing more than a dose of inspiration and a sense of responsibility we have raised over $30m AUD.  We have supported thousands of children, we have stopped a recurring cycle of children dying from HIV related illnesses and we have seen 33 of our kids graduate from university in a step towards a life of choice, freedom and independence.  Nothing in any of what I have done within Hands is perfect, but there has been untold good achieved because I didn’t wait for perfection before action. 

Our dreams and plans that we never enact for fear of something less than perfect serve no one.  

Written by Peter Baines.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Advisory - Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good
Peter Baines
Peter Baines OAM, author of Leadership Matters: Stories and Insights for Leaders, Achievers and Visionaries is a highly sought after international keynote speaker, author and humanitarian who helps leaders and their teams maximise their leadership potential.

Peter Baines is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website CLICK HERE.