Design Thinking Tips from Famous Artists: Perfection

Throughout history, artists have struggled to create masterpieces with the highest level of perfection. The most prominent example of this was the use of the golden ratio, also known as the divine proportion that was applied to achieve balance and beauty in sculptures and paintings. The golden ratio of an object is found when the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part.

fibonacci golden ratio for design harmony, vector

Leonardo da Vinci applied the golden ratio to define all of the proportions in The Last Supper, Vitruvian Man, and the Mona Lisa.

Vitruvian man

Other artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, and Seurat also applied the golden ratio to reach the highest level of aesthetic perfection, as did Salvador Dali. For example, the ratio of the dimensions of Dali’s painting The Sacrament of the Last Supper represents the golden ratio.

Due to his high self-esteem and his passion for perfection, Dali had troubles in his early career. He was even expelled from school after criticizing his teachers for not having enough talent to be able to make comments on the perfection of his artworks. But at later times in his career, even he accepted the idea that perfection has no limits. He summarized this fact as follows: “Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.”

A similar statement was made by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “In art the best is good enough.”

This is also valid for business and technology solutions. Even in time-sensitive, fast-track projects, some perfectionist stakeholders might insist on expanding the solution scope by adding nice-to-have features. When they insist on perfection, the famous phrase in Voltaire’s poem “La Bégueule” should be remembered: “Perfect is the enemy of good.” This line makes the case that in some conditions, insisting on perfection often results in no improvement at all.

To prevent this risk, the features of new business and technology solutions should be prioritized according to two main criteria: business value and implementation difficulty.

Business value depends on alignment with business requirements. The features with high business value and low implementation difficulty should be rated as high priority, while the ones with low business value and high implementation difficulty should be rated as low priority. The rest should be labeled as medium priority and prioritized according to their expected frequency of use and time-to-market constraints.

Medium-priority features can be relabeled as high priority if they have a high frequency of use and there is enough time to implement them. Otherwise, they move to the low-priority quadrant.

When time to market is the most important criterion, the project should be classified as a “Fast Track” one. In these time-sensitive, fast-track projects, development teams should focus on “must-have” features rather than “nice-to-have” ones and try to focus on generating “fair value” outcomes. Otherwise, there is a risk of achieving nothing.

You can reach more content about universal analysis and design thinking principles in business, technology and art in our book:


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