Our thanks to Susan for this series on Knowledge Professionals! We hope to hear from her again soon!

Part 4: Good enough?

by Susan Lipsey

I am not fond of the expression “good enough” and believe it is used all too often in business. The expression has a negative connotation as in “this work is good enough” and begs the question: “So….. what is missing that would make it excellent?” It is a judgment call to know when you’ve gathered and synthesized enough information to produce a report that is qualitatively different from “good enough” – to know when you have bridged the information gap challenge plaguing your client. We don’t want to tell our clients that what we’ve just delivered to them is good enough for their purposes – it devalues both our work and their request.  We ought to be able to say that what we’ve delivered is “excellent” and if it is not, then we ought to go back and work on it till it is.  To some this may seem extreme, but the alternative is to aim low and work our way up until our clients are satisfied and feel they have enough, placing the evaluation role with our clients when it ought to rest with us as their service provider.

Admittedly there are times when “good enough” is sufficient – such as an internal meeting to convince colleagues that the organization start monitoring an industry to identify and develop new business targets – a quick overview from recent news headlines from the web is “good enough.”  But when a client is to be the keynote speaker at an industry conference, or you are collaborating on a client proposal to win business – then a best efforts are required.

Examples: A Media monitoring is an area where organizations invest a great deal of time in order to gather competitive intelligence and maintain current knowledge of clients’ businesses and industry developments. Assessing how much media content to gather to address these initiatives is another example of good enough versus excellent. I had the opportunity recently to run a comparison between Google News results with those of other private vendor news sources. There is often a debate within organizations looking for cost-effective processes to obtain news content free of charge versus paying for content from third party vendors. My weeklong test demonstrated that Google News missed pertinent content more than 50 per cent of the time, rendering its usability low for media monitoring purposes as we could not guarantee our clients that they would be aware of all relevant competitive intelligence and/or industry developments.

Contrast this with a client who simply wants a quick snapshot of recent events in an industry, in which case Google News would be “good enough.”

As information experts, the onus is on us to judge the appropriate investment of time and resources, and determine within the client parameters the best cut-off point.  Good enough is not an appropriate or professional term or approach for knowledge professionals conveying the value they bring to business.  It’s all about judgment, and our judgment should be “the best.”

“Most people don’t aim too high and miss. They aim too low and hit. Bob Moawad