The Almost-Famous ‘Double Compromise Rule’
One simple rule that will help you tread the line between laziness and efficiency.
Never allow 2 compromises between your vision and your product
Every product of a creative collaboration is a compromise.
Even ‘solo’ projects with unwavering vision are eventually realised under compromise. That could be a compromise of budget, understanding or time.
But when does a compromise go too far in business, or in life?
Today I had a call with a man who creates electronic devices for magicians. During our session I introduced him to the almost-famous “double compromise rule” and it spawned a moment of introspection for him.
The rule states that you should never allow 2 (or more) separate compromises between your vision and your final product.
If you do, you’re making something much worse than what you’re capable of and are destined for failure.
Making a Camel by accident
Let me come clean, this isn’t a famous rule I’ve ever heard anyone mention before, but it’s something I’ve always lived by.
Accepting too many adjustments to your direction, without improvement, makes everything unavoidably worse.
I once heard Ricky Gervais say that “A camel is a horse designed by committee”. A proverb that fully emphasises the ineffectiveness of incorporating too many conflicting opinions into a single project through compromise.
It’s not that you can’t improve upon an idea with various input from friends, family or colleagues — you can. But when someone’s solution invariably creates another problem, it was never the right solution in the first place.
Can refusing to compromise can backfire too?
In 1975, Sony released Betamax, a proprietary format for recording and playing video.
The battle was between Betamax and VHS… and Betamax was better quality.
Sony refused to compromise Betamax’s quality to match the lesser quality of VHS. It believed the best product would win.
However, they also refused to widely-distribute their technology, keeping the exclusive for this new format away from the hands of their competitors.
VHS, with it’s abundance, ended up gaining much more market-share than Betamax ever could. It wasn’t the best, but it was good and accessible.
At a time when video playback at home was a relatively new phenomenon, people were just excited for ‘a good solution’ and not necessarily the perfect one.
Sony’s inability to compromise on either their quality or distribution killed the success of their own product and they were left playing catch-up.
How to strike the right balance — Laziness vs Efficiency
I tell you that Sony story to warn you against the pursuit of perfection.
Not all compromises are detrimental to the survival of your business, product or idea. However, just as ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’, usually compromising twice or more on a single idea will ultimately ruin your vision.
The end result will always be worse than your initial goal.
It’s very simple to say yes to something because it’s cheaper to produce or will be ready quicker — but will it be the best final product? Will it even be close to what you were trying to produce in the first place?
The lazy approach is to go down the path of least resistance. Compromising again and again, just to get the job done.
The efficient approach is to aim to make the best product you can. Perhaps you’ll accept a compromise along the way, as long as the outcome remains as something you can still be proud of.
Whether you’re a creator, maker, producer or business owner, there’s a fine line between a project that’s possible and perfection. It’s your job to walk that line.
Remember that doing something that’s great is better than doing nothing at all. Whilst you’re wasting time mollycoddling your idea, your competition will saturate the market with access.
To win, your service or product just needs to stand above it… and not by much.
‘Best’ is subjective, but ‘good’ is objectively measurable.
By following the ‘double compromise rule’ rule in all of your endeavours, you’ll ensure your visions are realised efficiently, without being lazy or degrading your initial goal too far.
It’s okay to compromise, just not frequently.