I’m a music guy. I’m also somewhat of an art guy. In either case, the music or art that I tend to love most is usually filled with flaws. For example, I love the sound of a tube guitar amplifier – devices that often sound “dirty” because they rely on antiquated technology (I honestly don’t know of any use for vacuum tubes outside of audio purposes). There are digital amplifiers that can perfectly replicate a particular sound…but they still don’t sound as good! They’re too perfect. It’s the flaws that make those old amps sound so good.
It’s the same with art for me. I’ve never enjoyed looking at a photorealistic painting. It’s too good. I want to see paint strokes…I want to see the subject of the painting filtered through the artist’s eyes…I want to see the flaws!
I think this same human trait carries through to business. Now, in business, when you are providing goods and services to people who are giving you money, it’s a much finer line. I guess I don’t so much mean that your product should have flaws. You should offer a product that is as free from flaws as possible.
But that’s also not to say it has to be perfect. There’s no such thing as a perfect product. Manufacturers who employ some of the smartest engineers in the world still put out products that end up being recalled. Software companies put out products filled with bugs. If you wait until you have the perfect product, you will never have anything to sell.
I’m a partner in an online software company called ProfitDig that sells a service that construction companies can use to create job bids and perform job costing. A few years back, our lead developer disappeared on us. Literally. One day the guy was just gone and we were never able to get in touch with us again. So we finished cobbling the thing together with off-shore developers and our own ingenuity.
But none of us really understood the code base enough to make any major changes to the system. Eventually, we decided to just start over, building out version 2.0 with a new developer who we knew wouldn’t abandon us like the first guy (because he’s my cousin!). But we still proceeded launching the business with the original version. Even though it wasn’t perfect, it was still a better, much lower cost option than most of the other options in the market. It had flaws, but it was good enough for us to start.
You also don’t have to be perfect. In fact, one of my all-time favorite guys in the world of marketing, Dan Kennedy, talks openly about his flaws and past mistakes (divorce, bankruptcy, etc.) and advises business owners do the same. Let your customers see you for who you are, warts and all.
Really, the title of this article should probably have been “flaws can be a beautiful thing,” but that just didn’t flow as well. You should not AIM for flaws, but you should accept them…and sometimes even embrace them.