I love the concept of halfway there. The idea is that a distance between two things can always be cut in half, bringing them very close together in a few steps. Unfortunately, going halfway can never ever actually get the two items completely together.
For instance, even if a football team only has 20 yards to go, and gains half the distance to the goal each time, 4 plays would get them to the 1-and-a-quarter yard line. Those of you who know football will “armchair quarterback” the field goal unit onto the field, since it’s 4th down, but that’s where the example breaks down. The point is, no matter how many times you move closer by halfway, there is still halfway to go, so you never get there.
This is particularly applicable to the concept of perfection. Since nothing, and no one is ever actually perfect. True, there are some very close approximations, but everything could be improved upon somehow. Even a perfect cupcake could have fewer calories. Even the perfect diamond could have been created faster. Even the perfect relationship… or unicorn for that matter, could actually exist.
I find that when my perfectionistic tendencies really get fired up it is extremely helpful to remind myself that no matter how hard I try, I’m not going to get anything all the way to perfect.
Repetition can sometimes help, since “practice makes perfect,” but only if there is potential for improvement each time. After all, doing the same thing, again and again, (but the wrong way) does not get anything closer to perfection. Instead, trying something slightly different throughout the repetitions may lead to process improvements and better outcomes. This is the point of batting practice. Even the best professional baseball players take batting practice frequently. This helps them maintain the good parts of their swings through muscle-memory and their coaches can help make minor differences to improve the results.
Once a process has been improved to an acceptable level, machines (properly maintained) can crank out the repetition without much risk of failing performance. They are great at doing the same task over and over without complaining, arguing, slacking off, or being late. For example, pitching machines are often used for batting practice. They can spit out pitches all day and not get tired. They can be adjusted for speed and pitch type, and they do a good job. A person pitching for batting practice would soon get tired and the quality of the pitches would suffer. That’s one reason why in a game situation, where machines are not allowed, two or three pitchers are usually involved. A “complete game,” pitched by one person is very rare.
Our business, Goat Milk Stuff, like many businesses, requires a lot of repetitive tasks. From measuring ingredients, to mixing and pouring, to packaging, these tasks are done day after day. I have often been advised to automate many of these processes in order to grow our business. Our competitors use machines to produce almost all of the soap that can be found in your local grocery or department store. We could use similar machines to accomplish many of the tasks required in our process. Although there is a large investment in the machines at first, they are often easier to maintain and less expensive than an employee.