The 85% rule

Eighty-five percent is the new 100 percent, or so a number of business and work-life leaders posit, marking a shift that carries extra meaning in an industry with perfectionist tendencies like healthcare. 

The idea of 85 percent as the goal does not welcome inferiority, but eliminates inconsequential work and preserves long-term stamina, according to The Wall Street Journal, which interviewed business and thought leaders. For example, does the last slide of the deck influence the success of the presentation? Will a decision made with 85 percent of the information result in a different outcome than if 100 percent of information was factored? 

Experts say upholding 8.5 wins out of 10 as a success, not failure, will help workers better defend themselves from burnout, optimize time, protect self-worth and maintain motivation, particularly in a social media environment rich with social comparison. 

Eighty-five as the new 100 percent likely raises a fair amount of cognitive dissonance in healthcare. The field has long been known to grapple with perfectionism among physicians and surgeons, for instance. Minds may go to how the 85-percent-as-whole mindset could come home to affect patient safety and outcomes. Although it may be a growing concept in some circles, it is not exactly a compelling healthcare marketing slogan.

Business leaders told the WSJ that reframing success at 85 percent is about compromising on the right components of work rather than treating them all as equal and landing on a healthy (versus unattainable) level of difficulty. 

"It's that Goldilocks balance," Krishnamurthy Subramanian, PhD, executive director at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., told the WSJ. Dr. Subramanian recounted an experience in which he prepared for a presentation but did not overthink it, knowing it would be acceptable even if it wasn't perfect. When slides froze up toward the end, he felt confident "winging it" through to the end. 

"[Eighty-five percent] is not slacking," he said. 

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