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Progress vs. Perfection

Progress is the move, action or advancement towards completing a job, project or objective. Perfection is a state or quality of something being faultless and complete.

The differences between Progress and Perfection can be subjective but relatable in life and business.

  1. Progress is simple. Perfection is abstract.

  2. Progress is uplifting. Perfection is exhausting.

  3. Progress is flexible. Perfection is rigid.

  4. Progress is transparent. Perfection is opaque.

  5. Progress is time-constrained. Perfection is endless.

  6. Progress focuses on the positive. Perfection focuses on the negative.

  7. Progress is freedom. Perfection is a constraint.

  8. Progress creates value. Perfection is expensive.

  9. Progress unites a team. Perfection is an individual pursuit.

  10. Progress is getting things "done". Perfection struggles to get anything done.

Progress leads to perfection. Progress is the journey. Perfection is the destination.

Agile context

Agile values actively promote progress over perfection. Agile practices orient the team to progress towards a goal or outcome. The Agile mindset drives action through the belief that “something is better than all or nothing”.


  • Create a clear and simple vision of the product to be developed. Clarify the reasons for its development and how it is likely to be used and by whom. The product and its reasons for existence ought to be the overall goal for the project. (Product Vision)

  • Deconstruct the product to its components and features. Teams tend to work more productively when they visualize and understand the parts that make the whole. (Product Backlog)

  • Sequence the development in time cycles (Sprints or Iterations) so that progress is clearly apparent and visible to the team and stakeholders. (Release Plan)

  • Measure progress through burndown charts of completed backlog (components and features of the product), not effort. Many teams measure burndown of effort. Effort expended may not always produce outcomes. Many teams are guilty of this misgiving. (Velocity)

  • Deliver something of value in every sprint. Banish the “All or nothing” mindset. (Continuous Improvement)

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