Good Enough

one star at a time

As one who likes to build and optimize, I love getting things perfect. It’s often impossible to be perfect. Infrastructure lock-in and incentives lead to good enough winning.

winning thoroughly

QWERTY keyboards aren’t the best keyboard configuration. Colemak and Dvorak are both better for the most common letters and punctuation we use. However, the fastest typists in the world all use QWERTY. This is because of the infrastructure lock-in of QWERTY. Every keyboard is QWERTY. When someone realized that there was a more effective layout, there were already millions of typewriters. It didn’t make sense to switch. QWERTY was and still is good enough.

Many life philosophies and popular frameworks are wrong. “Follow your passion” is bad advice. “Follow your contribution” is better advice. But “follow your passion” is good enough to get people to go after what gives them energy. Frameworks like “follow your passion” are good enough to get passed down generation after generation. 

This is called a minimum viable product in the tech world. When something is viable enough to work and take off, then it takes off. 

The structure of public education is nonsensical. Memorizing useless information as a status signal is a waste of time. But school grades and which university someone was admitted to is a decent filter to judge people. Grades aren’t perfect. Many, including myself, felt school was child prison. Even with edge cases breaking, school accurately segmenting ~3/4 of society is good enough.


What you’re good enough at matters. In An Economist Gets Lunch, Tyler Cowen talks about the history of prohibition. Speakeasies that served the best food were shut down by the speakeasies with the best connections to local law enforcement. Understanding incentives and aligning the powers that be can be the difference between life or death.

Healthy food just needs to be healthy enough. Our calendar and they way we tell time is awful, yet good enough. Nonprofits that fill a role could be more optimized, but if they fill a role supporting a feel good cause, they’re good enough. Institutions slowly decay over time until they’re no longer good enough. A lot has to go wrong for people realize an institution is no longer good enough. 

what is done vs what is possible

This is why there’s a discrepancy between what is done vs what can be done in any industry. When that gap gets too large, new groups form to compete. This is what we saw in the real estate software industry before starting Ender. There’s never been a greater gap between how things are done vs how they can be done given current technology.

Ender’s “good enough” has to be better than our existing competition who have been building for decades with 100x our budget. We’re almost there. 

Once one achieves good enough, innovation needs to continue. Preferably becoming good enough in several categories to capture territory. Processes need to be in place to make sure you’re always pushing for more. Good enough is a stepping stone, not a destination. There’s always somewhere higher to climb.