Great is the Enemy of Good

We over-analyze, over-plan and over-think, but get nothing done. We explore an endless stream of information that give rise to new questions—new possibilities. These lead to further questions, options, possibilities, and the cycle continues. We have met the enemy and the enemy truly is us.

We fall victim to Analysis Paralysis: the inability to make any forward progress because we’re bogged down in research, unable to make a decision or take action. Well, sometimes good is good enough.

It is often better to make a good decision now than to wait and make a great, perfectly thought through decision too late. It is commendable to strive for excellence, not perfection.

More information can always be unearthed, compiled and analyzed, but at what cost?  Will the expense in cash, time or lost opportunity be higher than the value gained from the information?  We must balance the expense of information-gathering against the risks.  There is a time when a decision must be made even though the facts may be incomplete.  The decision may be different when more facts are known or the specific situation changes, or maybe not.

We must recognize when further analysis is unwarranted, a certain level of risk is acceptable, and action is needed. Then we must act.


Great is the enemy of good. Paraphrasing the quotation “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien” (The better is the enemy of the good.) From Voltaire [François Marie Arouet] (1694–1778), French philosopher, author. La Bégueule (1772) and Dictionnaire Philosophique (1764).

We have met the enemy… Paraphrasing a message sent in 1813 from U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry to Army General William Henry Harrison after the Battle of Lake Erie, stating, “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” First satirized by Walt Kelly (1913-1973) in The Pogo Papers, 1953,” … we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.” And then later in his carton strip, Pogo.

Bob Roitblat
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Bob Roitblat

Bob Roitblat is a Leadership Capabilities Expert and TEDx speaker. He helps organizations ignite creativity, overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities. Bob is also the president of Mainsail Consulting Group, a business-advisory firm. Also connect with Bob on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

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Bob Roitblat
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