Saturday, August 25, 2007
The good enough agency.
Jay Chiat, I think it was, famously said "good enough is not good enough." True. But this post is not about good enough in the "Chiatian" sense. Instead it's about some thoughts by child psychologist and educator Donald Winnicot, who propagated the notion of the "good-enough mother."
A little background, to Winnicott, the good-enough mother tries to provide what the infant needs, but she instinctively leaves a time lag between the demands and their satisfaction and progressively increases it. As Winnicott states: "The good-enough mother...starts off with an almost complete adaptation to her infant's needs, and as time proceeds she adapts less and less completely, gradually, according to the infant's growing ability to deal with her failure" (Winnicott, 1953). The good enough mother stands in contrast with the "perfect" mother who satisfies all the needs of the infant on the spot, thus preventing him/her from developing.
I wonder if more agencies should think about this contrast. Clients (and I'm not being condescending here) in this metaphor can be thought of as babies. If all their needs are met immediately, perfectly, they will never develop patience and maturity. They will never accept dissent, strong opinions, even defiance. They will grow reliant, dependent but not trusting.
The good enough agency would not ignore the client, but instead, help the client to develop independently and maturely over time. Ultimately what the child/client learns is a sense of self.
I am neither a psychologist or an account guy, but this makes sense to me. Is your agency good enough? Because that's better than perfect.
Posted by george tannenbaum at 5:38 PM