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The Anatomy of Perfection

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

I have a friend who loves McDonald's. Not in the offhanded way we all do. But genuine heartfelt love, which entails him using phrases such as "it makes my heart sing" and McDonald's in the same sentence. He dreams of owning a McDonald's franchisee one day, not in the least for the endless supply of chicken nuggets, but just for the pride he would feel in owning the brand he loves.

After hearing him declare this undying love, I started doing my own discrete surveys and came to the startling conclusion that no one hates McDonald's. Sure, you don't meet people who want to own McDonald's merchandise everyday. But people who absolutely hate McDonald's? You won't meet those either. Sure, their food is unhealthy. They sell fat disguised as beautiful burgers. They are evil. But they never taste bad, do they? They have a predictably ok taste.

Rory Sutherland, one of my favourite columnists describes the economic principle of satisficers and maximisers using McDonald's. Maximisers try to maximise utility. Satisficers (derived from satisfy + suffice) just want the bare minimum to remain satisfied. The very fact that McDonald's exist is proof of satisficing. They get away doing just enough to not be hated. And best of all, in no city is McDonald's the best or the worst restaurant. In cities where vegetarians don't get even a single option, the bright yellow arches welcome them with irresistible golden oil soaked fries. 

Maybe we got the idea of perfection all wrong. It's not about making a flawless product. It's about lowering customer expectations to such a low that the mere adherence to basics consistently makes customers happy.

For instance, hypothetically speaking - "Government services are so bureaucratic. But hey, I got my passport in just one week. Yay!"

Or hypothetically speaking again, "This car is so polluting, but hey, it's safe." #NotVolkswagon

Or, hypothetically speaking, "This flight is so cramped, but hey, atleast it doesn't crash." #BoinkBoink

The point is, there's some merit to products, services and people who don't overperform, and yet, deliver the very least expected of them. Not everyone can be an Apple, can they? 

In the spirit of this new definition of perfection, here's to all things that few people love, and even fewer hate! 

Noisy auto-rickshaws, the left half of the bell curve, vanilla ice-cream, plain salted chips, salted popcorn, Bata shoes, tomato soup, Wednesdays, Tottenham and the colour beige. May you all find the love that McDonald's found in my friend. 

Godspeed. (Not too fast, not too slow. Just fast enough.)


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