Iteration versus perfection

I frequently find in my job that I'm the proponent for lots of  iteration and learning. Gifford Pinchot terms this "early learning beats better planning". By comparison, many folks I work with emphasize getting it right the first time.

While I have nothing wrong with getting it right the first time (if you know what right is, if you have some way to test it, if it doesn't delay you in getting something out), the problem with it as an approach is that practicioners don't emphasize closed-loop learning and improvement the way that a "launch and learn" practioner would. So if it isn't right the first time for whatever reason, you don't have the processes set up and in place to monitor that, learn from it, and respond rapidly.

I came across an interesting anecdote (via Chanpory Rith, via Trent) from Art and Fear on early learning verus better planning:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot—albeit a perfect one—to get an “A”.
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work—and learning from their mistakes—the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
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