Commentary: 110% is not a bad thing

October 9, 2007

I want to comment on a post I read today, by what I would consider to be an expert in the field of Ajax and Web Development in general. I ran across this post today while I was searching for some help on a Spry problem that I was having and it was completely ironic.

The post is called ‘Don’t Give 110%…‘ and it goes into saying:

I would rather have a steady concerted effort than a stressed out push full of mistakes. I want someone on my team who can give me 100% of their effort on a consistant basis rather than someone who gives 80-90% (or less), consistantly, then tries to push the last little bit with a “110%” effort.

Definitely some some sound advice from someone who I am sure “consistently” 😉 gives 100% all of the time. When I first started reading the post I was a bit taken a back. Who in their right mind would ever ask for someone not to give them %110. I was about to comment on his blog how that was a rather strange post for someone who is considered a “leader” in the field (at least within the Spry Framework field) when I remembered why I was there.

I found myself at this spot because I was having difficulty with a particular bit of Ajax code I was working on for our new demo site set to release with our product. It worked fine in Firefox but not in IE and so when I searched for help I “stumbled upon” his blog post and was intrigued.

As the day wore on (and I eventually found my problem) I realized that at one angle he has a point. But I think that it needs to be clarified at least.

What I define as 100% and what someone else might define as 100% are totally different things. When I do something I like to do it right. I pay attention to detail. I enjoy the finer parts of complete analysis and thorough execution. However, when you are a perfectionist, something is never really “done”. So how does one define 100% on a solution to a problem or execution of a project that could always be a little bit better.

What is 100% in todays hyper sensitive, uber-attention filled days. Is it participating in a project without any distractions from outside noise? Is it focusing constantly on the problem until you solve it (assuming there is a solution). Don’t know.

I can tell you this: What I was having a problem with (which consumed nearly 45 minutes of my day – and distracted one other individual for more than 10 of those) was a stupid error caused by what I can only imagine could be defined as “fatigue”.

So is my “giving 110%” causing my performance to go down? I am taking on too many projects with little time to complete them to 100% – maybe.

Or, am I a looking at executing my tasks at 110% of my capabilities all the time, whether I spend 1 minute or5 hours. Giving 110% is not only subjective it is relative.

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One Response to “Commentary: 110% is not a bad thing”

  1. mikull Says:

    when you are a perfectionist, something is never really “done” – well said.

    However, there is no such thing as 110%. You do what you do, they way you do it, but we are not robots. We must adjust our tasks to match who we are. Only then can we remain consistent.

    Poor project management always leads to burn out, whether it’s your own personal time management or a team based dynamic that goes wrong. But it’s a catch 22. When you work well, you do things efficiently. You perform tasks consistently. You’re always learning, sharing, and executing. But we are all human, and we have to train ourselves to provide realistic expectations- whether it be for ourselves or in a group. When you performance meets or exceed expectations, this needs to be nurtured- but often it’s simply taken advantage of. So as the old saying goes, the more you do, the more they expect. We’ve all seen it.

    To handle it, I’ve come to grips with moderation. It’s not laziness or failure when I don’t work extra hours all week long, or bring my work home with me to lose sleep over. Growing, and being who I am contributes to my success. Efficiency is in knowing the balance. Success is in maintaining it.

    I believe no one should ask for “110%”. Ask for 100%, determine, as you said, subjectively in relation to task, whether or not 100% is an asset. It’s so simple, but people need only adjust their expectations to meet reality.


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