It’s a trick question. The answer is neither.
Customer, by normal standard, never sees you struggle or should see your efforts for the service you provide. Not unless you have some sort of show that, eg. open kitchen where the customers can watch you prepare their food. As such you are to fill the expectations your customer has. Nothing less and you’ll feel and hear about it. Something more, and you’ll end up doing something that the customer isn’t expecting, and in most cases only will be seen as something negative.
Some companies argue that they are going for the extra mile for their customers. This is a cleaver way to say We’re actually putting a lot into our individual service. The same still applies; you’re expected to deliver the promised product. Nothing more, nothing less.
Doing your best is a valiant effort, as is trying your best. Nobody would ask you anything more. However, what you are asked on a daily basis is to deliver the product. I have a terrible tendency of trying and aiming for the best possible product, and nine times out of ten I fail miserably. Then when I just do what I am asked to, the results are nothing short of good. Adequacy is something that a lot of creative industry workers fear even when adequacy is something that they might need to aim for. What we might see as nothing short of doing nothing special and just doing something that doesn’t fulfil our needs or skills, but fills every niche our customers have. I admit that this is frustrating, but we are never asked anything more.
Overcoming ourselves seems to be a natural drive. Trying to beat our best with something better is good. I believe in altruistic embittering of human nature. However, to try to beat ourselves in making of products that will go to the customers is not fair. Not to the creator, and not to the customer. Naturally there are people trying to beat their record sales, but that’s not trying to become better or anything similar; it’s nothing short of selfish conceit. These people just do whatever they wish, doing something that they alone find pleasure in and create products for their own amusement. These people are artists.
If one would aim to serve their customers the best one can and nothing less, then he would soon find himself in constant evolution of his product. It wouldn’t be a question of what the customers want or how they are served; it would be a constant evolution with the product. Most restaurants go through this cycle in oneway or another. For some time their service is measured, and bit by bit the staff find their place in how to serve the customers efficiently and well. The kitchen staff will tweak the dishes bit by bit for the better either due to feedback from the customers (and I do strongly recommend giving feedback, as it will guide the restaurant to a more successive direction) or from the lack of orders. Of course, I am talking about restaurants that are not a part of a larger chain that requires standardisation of their meals, but even then these parts do apply when amassed together in scale large enough.
And you might actually notice that you’re actually making more profit and beating yourself with every new step you take, and you didn’t even try!
Now remember, I have a tendency to put things into an extreme perspective. Failures come from trying and failures are indeed necessary in order to achieve something higher. However, unlike SONY thinks, failures are not to be marketed to the customers. All SONY’s failures stem from the mindset of failures are OK if we have a hit product. This kind of attitude is nothing short of unacceptable, as it is playing games with investors’ money and time, as well as the customers’. The designer, engineer or whoever it is doing the product is not a superstar. He is a servant, and this seems to be hard to swallow. After all, our job is to make products that the customer likes, not what we want. Our goal is to make money, and serve our customers while we’re at it.
Selling out has a really harsh sound to it, but selling out in its core is more related to selling one’s ideals. I would be a sell out if I would buy a CAPCOM game or if I would’ve bought a 3DS when I had the chance to get one for 99€. However, I would not be a sell out if I would be allowing myself to be employed by CAPCOM. Actually, I had a chance to work with a game company recently, but I ultimately declined. My reason to this was that at the moment the prospect of video game industry is very murky, and from the spot I would have takenoff from would not have had any impact of any kind. It would’ve been just another job, and I would’ve been happy to get it. Yet, I knew that working there even for a short time would’ve made me sadder than what I already am.
Overall, it isnot a matter of trying. It’s a matter of learning. Learning itself holds the concept of failures, and we need to learn from those mistakes in order to advance and reach a spot where we simply ‘do.’ Yoda’s line Do or do not. There is no try resonates here soundly and it does have its place as a good advice. Yoda never tells you that you might need to research materials, customers, methods, history, physics, anatomy, fashion, chemistry, mathematics, culture, gastronomics, engineering and God knows what else. It sounds like it would be easier just to come up with something, but without research you have no basis to be creative. Designer chair alone does encompass all aforementioned areas if we want to make something that has an actual use and will not be a one hit wonder. A product with solid base, a solid base that originally stems from a need of the customers, requires no try. It requires the effort of doing it right.