Monday, February 22, 2010

Coding Horror Proves That Good Is Good Enough

I'm a fan of the marketer and business writer Dan Kennedy. One of his rules is "Good is good enough." To see an example, check out Jeff Atwood's latest post on Coding Horror.

The blog post itself is reasonable enough. The important part is just one tiny sentence fragment:

I am stunned, but not entirely surprised

This is of course ABSOLULTELY IMPOSSIBLE. It's like saying, "I was as surprised as is humanly possible, but I wasn't entirely surprised." Or, "I was terrified to the point of near insanity, but I wasn't afraid at all." I would expect that kind of thing from a random sentence generator, but it's kind of disgusting seeing it come from a human being. Atwood's writing is full of this kind of casual disregard for basic semantics, a blatant inattention to the meaning of the words he uses. But it doesn't matter in one respect: his blog is still a very successful blog.

This is a prime example of Kennedy's rule. "Good is good enough" means that if you do everything necessary to succeed, you'll succeed, and perfectionism is not actually necessary. If you combine mediocre writing with a diligent daily schedule and a reasonably interesting selection of topics, you can have a very successful blog. In this post, for example, Atwood fails at words, but he gets his point across anyway, and it's a point worth thinking about. It's not great, but it's good, and good is good enough.

This is why I launched my career coaching program before I had any system in place to manage it, with less marketing build-up than I should have had, less scheduling support, less market research, and no automated e-mail handling at all. A person who loved good business organization would freak out at my haphazard "system" the way a person who loves good sentence organization freaks out when attempting to digest Atwood's muddled "thoughts", but Atwood's blog does really well, and my coaching program is ramen profitable and keeping me afloat without a 9 to 5. "Good is good enough" is really just another way to say "YAGNI."