Jim’s department had rolled out a new process for project managers inviting them to register new projects. Seeing little engagement Jim was getting frustrated. In his mind, the process was so beneficial that he had assumed that everyone would use the process. Now he had shifted to a perspective that everyone should use it and that his role was to make that happen. Actually, for him, that was the only possibility to be successful with his project.
Jim described this as his desire for perfection. But in his case, it is more accurately described as the desire for security.
By making sure that things would happen exactly as he had imagined them, he was aiming at avoiding all the problems he could foresee should his project not work out as he had imagined it. Simply put, providing structure to contain the data used by project managers and make it generally available was his way to reduce the probability of chaos.
While it may sound exaggerated, there is much to it. That’s what a process is for.
The rigidity that comes along with the ideal of perfection, that is a zero failure rate, made it hard on him. That’s because the only strategy available in such a case is to be responsible for making it happen oneself. Anything else means giving up the chance to reach perfection.
Investigating responsibilities he saw more options. He had seen his responsibility as the one to make sure everyone abides by the process. However, taking the perspective that his responsibility was to provide the process as a useful service opened the door to another perspective. One that changed how he could use his desire for perfection. He could choose to make it his aim to have a maximum of people buying in. Shifting his strategy and focus on making it useful for as many as possible.