So just what is the imperfectionist methodology?
The Imperfectionists: Strategic Mindsets for Uncertain Times states this clearly and succinctly—but it’s also a bit tricky. It’s rather like inquiring: How do I strike out the batter? It’s rather simple, really. Just throw the ball past him! LOL
With apologies to the authors, Robert McLean, Charles Conn, ex McKinsey, they summarized their approach in a September 2020 McKinsey Quarterly Article – Six Problem-Solving Mindsets For Very Uncertain Times
- Be ever-curious: One simple suggestion from author and economist Caroline Webb to generate more curiosity in team problem solving is to put a question mark behind your initial hypotheses or first-cut answers. This small artifice is surprisingly powerful: it tends to encourage multiple solution paths and puts the focus, correctly, on assembling evidence.
- Tolerate ambiguity—and stay humble! The real world is highly uncertain. Reality unfolds as the complex product of stochastic events and human reactions. . . Recent research shows that we are better at solving problems when we think in terms of odds rather than certainties.
- Take a dragonfly-eye view The secret to developing a dragonfly-eye view is to “anchor outside” rather than inside when faced with problems of uncertainty and opportunity. Take the broader ecosystem as a starting point. That will encourage you to talk with customers, suppliers, or, better yet, players in a different but related industry or space. Going through the customer journey with design-thinking in mind is another powerful way to get a 360-degree view of a problem.
- Pursue occurrent behavior. Occurrent behavior is what actually happens in a time and place, not what was potential or predicted behavior. You can think of this approach as creating data rather than just looking for what has been collected already. Risk-embracing problem solvers find a solution path by constantly experimenting. Over time, their experiments, including alliances and acquisitions, come to resemble staircases that lead to either the goal or to abandonment of the goal. Problem-solving organizations can “bootstrap” themselves into highly uncertain new spaces, building information, foundational assets, and confidence as they take steps forward. Statisticians use the abbreviation EVPI—the expected value of perfect information—to show the value of gaining additional information that typically comes from samples and experiments.
- Tap into collective intelligence and the wisdom of the crowd. In an ever-changing world where conditions can evolve unpredictably, crowdsourcing invites the smartest people in the world to work with you. Accept that it’s OK to draw on diverse experiences and expertise other than your own. Start with brainstorming sessions that engage people from outside your team. Try broader crowdsourcing competitions to generate ideas.
- Show and tell to drive action. To get better at show and tell, start by being clear about the action that should flow from your problem solving and findings: the governing idea for change. Then find a way to present your logic visually so that the path to answers can be debated and embraced. Present the argument emotionally as well as logically, and show why the preferred action offers an attractive balance between risks and rewards. But don’t stop there. Spell out the risks of inaction, which often have a higher cost than imperfect actions have.