At StringCan, we’ve invested a lot of time and energy into developing the right core values that serve our clients and our team. While we believe in all of them, many people point to our value of “going the last 1%” as the one that has most positively impacted our customer service and company culture. Here’s our take on this important philosophy, and why it means even more than going the last mile. 

Taking A Project To Full Completion 

When we talk about going to the last 1%, it might sound like a no-brainer. If you’ve gone 99% of the way, why wouldn’t you finish out the final 1%? But in reality, that last 1% is often where mistakes and complacency set in. 

Take, for example, a marketing project. Your agency has poured time, creativity, and resources into developing your next ad campaign. They’re exhausted but proud. They think it’s done. But, then, your CEO tells them they need to make a few more changes. Many marketers would be ready to throw in the towel. Or, they might address the changes, but do so half-heartedly, just to check a box. This serves no one and can mean the final 1% thwarts the great work done on the initial 99%. 

When we say we go the last 1%, we mean it. We don’t let fatigue or frustration stop us from completing a project to our client’s exact specifications. We don’t believe that “done is better than perfect;” we believe that “done” can only happen when we’ve fulfilled 100% of our clients’ expectations. 

How Much Difference Can 1% Make? 

It might seem like 1% is easy to write off. Even with something that matters greatly to most people, like their livelihood, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. You might be bummed if 1% of your paycheck went missing, but how much damage would it really do? However, we think every bit matters – and real-life examples prove this is true. 

Consider the idea of “Kaizen,” which is the concept of making “small, continual, incremental improvements” and “getting 1% better each and every day.” The power in this is that these tiny changes compound on the previous day’s achievements so, over time, they become big and influential. In fact, Toyota adopted this methodology years ago and it helped them start to outperform their American competitors. 

Another example comes from the Los Angeles Lakers. When the Lakers’ head coach, Pat Riley, started with the team, he calculated what a player’s normal day looked like in terms of speed. Once he figured out each person’s baseline level of performance, he challenged the team to “improve their output by at least 1% over the course of the season.” Riley launched this effort in October of 1986 and, a mere eight months later? The Lakers were the NBA champions. 

How We Ensure The 1% Gets Handled With Care

Of course, going the last 1% isn’t always easy or fast. We’re human, and it can be tempting to consider something final despite its not being up to our highest standards. So, on a practical level, how do we ensure our team always goes the last 1%? Here are some guidelines that you can implement too: 

  • Be precise with your communication

    Most of the time, failures in the last 1% of a project can be blamed on poor communication. If someone says, “I think we ran the verbiage past legal,” that’s a red flag. “I think” won’t cut it; verify it’s actually been done. Also, train yourself and your team to be abundantly clear. Instead of saying, “Sure, I’ll turn that around to you next week,” learn to say, “Sure, I’ll get the finished Scope of Work over to you by Wednesday EOD.” Leave no room for guessing or ambiguity. 

  • Ask the client

    If you think you’ve gone the last 1%, check in with your customer. Are they not only satisfied but also thrilled? That should be the goalpost. 

  • Check in with your gut

    If we’re all honest with ourselves, we know when our work product isn’t the best it can be. When in doubt, let your intuition guide you. If you have a seedling of a suspicion something isn’t done up to par, it probably isn’t. 

Going the last 1% not only keeps your customers happy, but it also trains your team to build sticktoitiveness and resilience. Want to work with a team that will always go the last 1% for you? Give us a call!