Bonni and I own a Lexus HS250. It’s a hybrid sedan that’s basically a fancy version of a Toyota Prius. We test drove both when we were car shopping a few years ago. It took us a whole 10 seconds to conclude that the Lexus was better.
We justified it as a sensible purchase since we’d had tons of issues with a previous vehicle and also had run up 125K miles on our Corolla in just a few years (I was driving 25K+ miles a year at the time). But, truth be told, neither of us had ever owned a luxury car and we had a bit of extra money at the time and decided to splurge a bit.
That said, I’m under no illusions that a Prius would have probably done the job just fine. It would have been reliable and gotten us to our daily destinations in plenty of comfort and speed.
Awareness of this distinction in results in crucial, because we all have limited resources. I run into managers that expect Lexus standards on everything. Full investment of time, energy, and resources in all aspects of their work and no wiggle room for error. A+ work all the time. The highest of high standards.
The problem? If everything is important, then nothing is important.
Sometimes A- or B+ results are just fine. Economists call this philosophy “good enough is best.” For example, most of us don’t spend 5 hours washing a car on our day off. Yes, the result would be somewhat better than the 30 minutes a month I currently invest into car washing, but the slightly better result isn’t worth the massive time trade-off.
Effective leaders decide what’s worth the time trade-off and what isn’t. They’ve determined what needs Lexus results also have accepted where a Prius will be just fine.
By all means, get Lexus results for things that justify it. The core work that you deliver to your internal or external customers should almost always be Lexus quality work. When that’s in jeopardy, work overtime. Mobilize all your resources. Expect only the highest standards. Get everyone involved.
However, make a clear distinction on what requires that level of energy and what doesn’t. One way to check yourself: If it isn’t Lexus quality, will anyone notice or care other than you?
For example, we’ve put much time over the past few years into graphics and website design. It’s not that the websites we run are ugly (I think they look fine) but people don’t connect with our organization for our website graphics and it’s not central to our core business. A- or B+ results here are fine.
Are you clearly communicating where Lexus results are needed and where Prius results will do? Share your comments in the feedback below.
After all, a Prius is a great car too.