Partial Deliverables

Americans often accept – and can work with – partial deliverables. Partial not in the sense of a pizza not fully baked, or a car without the steering wheel, or a report for senior level management with facts but no analysis, but in the sense of so-called 80% solutions.

In fact, it is often the customer, whether a colleague, another internal organization or an external, who is satisfied with the imperfect or incomplete deliverable. 80%, in some circumstances even less, will ‘do the trick’, it ‘gets the job done’, has ‘met the specifications.’

It is not uncommon for an American colleague requesting something – the deliverable – to be unclear about what it is they need. Americans move fast, sometimes too impatiently. They are asked to deliver something. In order to do so, they in turn ask others for something.

If speed is of the essence, they don’t have the time to wait for the perfect product, to even define exactly their need. Often the nature of the subject matter makes it difficult for them to specify the deliverable.

In such cases, the seemingly incomplete product delivered quickly meets, possibly even exceeds, the needs of the requesting party, whereas waiting for the official complete product can mean unnecessary risk. Better o.k. and on time, than perfect but too late.