The difference between perfection and iterating

A college ceramics professor once conducted an experiment amongst her students. She split the class in half and assigned each group a separate task to complete over the duration of the semester.

The first half of the class was to be graded based on the number of pots they could create throughout the semester. The more pots they made, the higher their final grades would be. The students from this group immediately began churning out pots as quickly as they could make them.

In contrast, the second half of the class was told that their grades depended on the quality of a single pot; it needed to be their best possible work. Each of these students tirelessly worked to create the perfect pot to submit for grading.

At the end of the semester, the professor asked the students from the first half of the class to present the last pot they created, while the second half turned in their single pot. Outside artists were then commissioned to critique the quality of the students’ work and overwhelmingly declared that the craftsmanship of the pots from the first half of the class was far superior to those of the second half.

I admit that I’m unsure of this story’s origin. If you know it, however, please reach out to @kylefiedler.

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