I can relate to the 80 percent solution that author Rick Rittmaster describes in this month's cover story. "Simply put," he writes, "the 80 percent solution is an understanding that you and your team aren't seeking perfection." For many, that's probably easier said than done—especially for editors, whose express job is to ensure articles are flawless. Yes, of course we seek to publish a perfect magazine every month, but the process to get there definitely involves steps for which, as Rittmaster says, "good enough is good enough." Let me explain.
The article submission process for our magazines involves some back and forth: An author sends us an article proposal; we consider it and provide feedback; the author submits the article draft; we review it; if the article meets our standards, we accept it and schedule it for publication. That's pretty straightforward. Sometimes, though, articles require more back and forth between the editors and the author to ensure the article clearly articulates its message. And at some point, we need to make the final decision about whether the article will ultimately work for our needs. We must move on, one way or another. Nitpicking every minor issue is not a good use of anyone's time, but if the potential is there, we can work with it.
After all, my great team of editors and I can finesse the article to get it to 100 percent—for example, develop a compelling headline, smooth out the transitions, and make the story shine. In the meantime, however, 80 percent will do just fine.
Among the processes and workflows you deal with, can you identify steps where being at a state of perfection isn't required to continue to the next phase? Are those places where you repeatedly find yourself or your team in a logjam? Well, move on.