"Well, of course I expect things to be done affordably, quickly, AND perfectly... Duh!"
If we were playing a game called "Spot the Rookie", the phrase above would be a dead giveaway. I know that phrase well because I was once that naive. I was the one who expected the world but didn't want to pay for it. The one who was a maximalist with a minimalist budget. The one who lived in a dream where limited resources still got you limitless results.
And you know what else? I was always the one who was disappointed when things took time (oh, SO much time...) or when the cost was greater than I was ready to pay or when the quality was below what I wanted. I wasn't being unreasonable, I thought, I just wanted it all.
How silly! I can almost hear you saying to your screen. Any three-year-old understands that you can't have all the things. But it wasn't until I was introduced to the Trinity that I found that out for myself.
Now anyone who has had some experience with Project Management will recognize the Trinity. It is that secular force of nature, that powerful triumverite, that all-knowing three-some called Time, Cost, and Quality. And the law of the Trinity dictates that we can only ever optimise or maximise two out of the three on any given task, project, or business.
Want your bookkeeper to provide low-cost services and superior quality, then expect a longer turnaround time. Want to have your next product be developed flawlessly and quickly, then expect to pay a premium for it. Want to spend pennies on your marketing campaign and get it done quickly, then expect the quality to be less-than-stellar.
Now, I know some of you might still be thinking the way I did. Some of you might think it defeatist to accept the reality of how the Trinity works. Some of you might even think you're the exception and you are going to prove me and the Trinity wrong.
But accepting the Trinity is far from accepting defeat. It is graduating out of our three-year-old mindset that lives in a fantasy world and becoming business adults who live in the real world.
Some things are just true. Some things aren't worth debating (water is necessary for life, gravity exists, the tax man cometh...) and trying to pretend those things ARE debatable is a foolish waste of time. The law of the Trinity is just another one of those truths.
Humans haven't tried to find a way to live without water; we have harnessed it and consume it regularly. The Wright Brothers didn't ignore gravity when they designed their planes; they worked with it to make flight possible. Good accountants don't ignore the existence of tax regulations; they strategize about how best to benefit their clients within those parameters. The law of the Trinity is just another thing we have to accept and work with.
When I started accepting the Trinity, it made a huge difference. I made a conscious choice that Quality and Cost would always be the two I optimised and accepted that Time would be the aspect I had to be flexible on as a result. This not only reduced my stress levels (no more screaming down the phone demanding things be done yesterday!) it also made my flow projections realistic instead of hopeful (businesses don't operate well on hope).
So let the Trinity be your reality check on how you plan and execute your business. Work with the Trinity, not against it. Say goodbye to unrealistic expectations that don't serve you or your business. Accept the Trinity and use it to your advantage.
Amen to that.