Lessons from Goldilocks

I’m a sucker for mantras. Quotes and sayings we can use to ground us, remind us what is important or keep us focused on our goals.  

I have a few.  

“It’s only a phase” – Lucy language for “this, too, shall pass.” A reminder that the hard times aren’t here forever, but neither are the good, so soak it all up and make the most of the little moments. 

There’s another one, though. One I remind myself of every day. One I have framed on my wall at work and at home.  

The moment I first heard it was one of the biggest “aha” moments of my life. It was as though my whole outlook had been perfectly summed up in a little sentence. One that also happened to originate from a fairy tale.  

“As much as necessary, as little as possible.” 

Thanks, Goldilocks.  

If it’s been a while since you read Goldilocks and The Three Bears, let me refresh your memory.  

At the table in the kitchen, there were three bowls of porridge.  Goldilocks was hungry.  She tasted the porridge from the first bowl. 

“This porridge is too hot!” she exclaimed. 

So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl. 

“This porridge is too cold,” she said 

So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge. 

“Ahhh, this porridge is just right,” she said happily and she ate it all up. 

The Goldilocks principle says that there is an ideal amount of any measurable thing – somewhere in the middle of one extreme (too hot, too large, etc.) and the opposite extreme (too cold, too small, etc.) is the amount that is “just right”. 

Yes, we can have too much of a good thing.  

Whether we’re talking number of emails to customers, steps in a process re-design, staff meetings, interview questions, number of hours spent in the office … any measurable thing. Successful businesses will avoid having too few or too many of anything.  

We need to keep solutions as comprehensive as necessary for them to succeed, but also keep the solution as simple as possible.  

Keep this in mind next time you’re designing services.

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