The brilliance of “roughly right”.

Over my career, I have had the privilege of working with the finest technology minds in our business. Yet, over the years, I also realized that success in business often eludes the most brilliant of tech minds.


I then began to recognize that business success in the tech world can hinge on one thing – whether the CEO has mastered the art of what I call roughly right.


This concept was introduced to me about a dozen years ago by a previous boss who overtly managed this principle effectively. I first met Ralph Faison when I was at the advertising agency and he was my AT&T client. Ralph later hired me to join him on the AT&T Cordless business unit which he headed. (FYI – Ralph went on to become CEO of Andrews Communications.)


He understood that human tendency is to make something very right (if not perfect). Therefore, he carefully managed this “perfection performance” standard so that if  95% perfection would take 3 times as long as having a product that is 80% right – then “roughly right” kicked in.


Ralph recognized there needed to be clear standards to balance the goal of creating perfection with the business reality of market timing. No one makes money on a product that takes forever to finish.


Since then, I’ve always seen that successful companies are led by successful CEOs like Melih Abdulhayoglu, CEO of Comodo ( and Jason Katz, CEO of Paltalk ( who actively manage this dynamic. Both companies demonstrate success in terms of above average sales, profit and unit growth for their space and I contend that their success is to no small degree attributable to their mastery of this concept.   


Once I recognized this key skill, I set out to master it for myself. I trained myself to identify the point when the ad concept was “roughly right”. I conscientiously analyzed programs to launch them when they were “mostly baked”.  I won’t say it always worked and there no big hiccups. It didn’t and there were – largely because the “roughly right” moment is different for just about every situation. I’ve never encountered two “identical” roughly right moments even if conditions are similar.  


That’s why the successful CEOs succeed. They can more accurately more often correctly make those “roughly right” calls – whether in product development or a business negotiation.


It is what separates the CEO Men from the CEO Boys.  



Judy Shapiro 

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