Winston Churchill is quoted as saying “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” To be a perfectionist is to live in a permanent state of disappointment; something can always be just that little bit better. It’s a scale with no end – reach one target and there is always another.
The desire to be perfect often leads to psychological conditions such as depression and eating disorders. English pediatrician and psychoanalyst Dr Donald Winnicott introduced the concept of the “good enough mother” in the 1950s. He argued that a ‘good enough’ mother was better than a perfect mother – as long as a child was well cared for, fed and loved, then it didn’t matter if the feeding schedule wasn’t perfect or their clothes weren’t matching.
It’s a principle that has been embraced by other professions. POGE (The Principle of Good Enough) is often used in the business world, particularly in the tech industry. It’s about creating something that is of value, but not perfect, and still going to market with it. Oft quoted examples include the Flip camera, Amazon’s Kindle and Skype. All were sent to market in a basic form, still consumed in huge numbers and then improved over and over again.
In tech, the POGE is also important because of the speed of innovation. Striving for perfection can lead to the gap in the market being filled by a rival; a ground-breaking idea becoming mainstream or out of date.
The POGE can also be successfully used in video. Video is designed to communicate, to entertain, to inform or educate. Once it’s done its job, it’s no good to the person who has just viewed it. But it goes on to perform the same function to the next member of the audience. And the next. Therefore, video is an art form that’s both disposable and reusable.
And in order to reach the maximum audience, video needs to be good enough. The message needs to be good enough that the audience will understand and act; it needs to be visually good enough that the pictures compliment the message rather than distract from it, and above all, it needs to be good enough so it actually reaches the audience.
Scholars will argue that any form of art is never truly finished. What stopped Vincent Van Gogh adding another dab of his brush in “Sunflowers”? While not comparing video with great artists, there’s the similarity that there’s always something that can be improved upon. We can make the colour that little bit more vibrant. We can make the graphics that tiny bit sharper.
The real art is knowing when to stop so the video does what its supposed to do – and reaches its audience.