Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Good enough never is.

   This weekend I was in Eskilstuna Sweden for a basketball tournament. So one night we ventured out for some food, in this case Chinese food at Ming Palace. Being a somewhat cautious person, I did some checking on TripAdvisor beforehand to see what was decent. The place in question was 4th on their list.

   As it turns out, 4th place was good enough to be pathetically mediocre. The food  was served quickly, and it wasn't over or under cooked. But it was devoid of any flavor. All served under the watchful eyes of the owner who never once inquired if we were enjoying, or had enjoyed, the food.

   How can that be? Well, I suppose that the standard of Eskilstuna isn't especially high, being a town of roughly 100,000 people, it isn't a likely spot for a top chef to hang their hat. Perhaps because of that, the restaurant had several customers who seemed to be contentedly grazing away. There isn't enough competition to force the Ming Palace to "up their game."

   But let's consider it from another perspective: there is NO competition. In other words, here is a place with a facility that is already open, and is actively serving clients. They are already doing 97% of the job it will take to make the place a star. All they have to do is put a little love into the food. If it was well seasoned, they'd probably be jammed with people. 

   At a minimum I'd bet a fair sum that an addition 5% effort would yield at  least a 20% increase in business. But I suspect it won't happen. They are probably puttering along OK, paying their bills and taking some time off every year. Business is good, or at least good enough. Right? Wrong.

   For now, the owners are safe. The little eco-system of this Swedish town is allowing them to survive on what they are doing. But what if one of their competitors decides to bring their "A" game? All of a sudden they might be having very little business and struggling to survive. They might even be forced to close.

   Such is the danger in playing the "safe" game of good enough. It provides an elusive veneer of comfort. They might be doing a little less business than before, but they can cut expenses, turn the heat down a bit. Slowly strangling a business that could thrive if someone would just look at it with a fresh set of eyes. 

   Don't be tempted to play the game of good enough. Bring your best game every day. Don't settle for being a little better than others. If the competition is poor, play hard anyhow. You never know when someone will show up ready to compete, so you need to be at your best. 

   Don't be lulled into complacency; good enough never is. 


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