Why the Danes use “Godt nok” for success and why you should too.

A unique insight of being just about good enough for success

Godt nok - Good enough

Ph Lamp - A classic of Danish design

Ph Lamp - A classic of Danish design

Denmark holds international acclaim for its outstanding minimalistic design influences.

Living within the community there is yet another ironic twist to the internal national reputation.

The expression of “Godt nok” (good enough) in Denmark covers many scenarios from a carpenters work to board room decision. This is not unique by itself, and the same attitude is also found across the whole world. However, what makes Denmark somewhat unique is the prevalence of this phrase.

To a person outside of the Danish culture "Godt nok" (Good enough) can appear an alarming message at the risk of quality. This approach has more positive aspects that can be justly applied to many people and companies if you need action and progress.

Making the best progress with your resources.

Map of Denmark

Map of Denmark

Denmark does not hold many vast natural resources. It is a relatively sparse population of just under 7 million people spread across over 400 hundred islands. This means, that the majority of companies in the nation have less than 50 staff. Their reliance on people for a variety of skills and support is witnessed more here than arguably most other western nations. 

The Danes make the best of what they have. This means understanding that progress towards a goal may have more twists and turns than other better resourced nations. So, an attitude of “godt nok” – good enough applies for solid reason.

Minimal Viable Product MVP

Minimal Viable Product MVP

The advantages the “god nok” (good enough) attitude provides is relative speed and an understanding of failure risk.

The Danes, are well equipped to understand the concepts of MVP (Minimal Viable Products).

This idea commits to ship a product or supply a service at the minimal level that will generate income or sales to the market.


Everything starts small
— Drew Houston - Dropbox

Then once in the market, service improvements are best made. You see this all the time in the software industry. The "ship it and then fix it" attitude has become a mandatory business mantra from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

These lessons of godt nok and MVP can be also applied for personal development and the business world.

Super star Illusions

Iron Man

Iron Man

It does not take long to find thousands of examples of excellence. The ribbed fit iron man athlete or billionaire. You can find success stories and then sit back in awe and wonderment of their fine achievements. Are you a business leader or person that see such benchmarks of excellence and yet feel “I am not ready for that big change yet”?

Hard work and grind

Hard work and grind

You see the before and after photos of transformational change in social media or case study highlights.

What we do not see is the daily grind and setbacks experienced by Usain Bolt or Mark Zuckerberg. 



  • The principle message that "Godt nok" shares is for a person or business to accept their current resource and skills level then move forward with progress.

  • You can always return and make things better later.

  • Start something and make progress, this is better than doing nothing and being held back by your fear of failure to meet the highest standards.

For people and companies seeking to create change and make progress, adopting a "Godt nok" attitude makes sense and offers considerable longer term value.

This was recognized in the project management field within the startup world and software business called SCRUM project management. You can adopt some of these principles to make the changes for yourself and business.

Linking the "GodT Nok" mindset with SCRUM

Anyone from Great Britain has come across the sport of Rugby. Within the rules of rugby is a tightly packed formation of players called a scrum. The scrum binds together with key members. Then, in unison they push against their opposition to gain distance against their competitors. The aim is to gain control and position of the rugby ball. This impressive sight to see two teams using a combination of physical condition, technique, rhythm and strong mental will power is in the video below. 

In the commercial world, the Scrum approach developed from the mid 1980’s . It gained popular acclaim and recognition from the work of Ken Schwalbe and Mike Beedle in their 2001 book “Agile Software Development with Scrum”.


In a modern world of instant gratification and improving customer services it is fair and correct to set high standards. In my opinion, this generates an expectation of output and results which may not be realistic for the majority of people and companies.

This element generates a hope but linked to false realistic expectations. So, people and companies simply do not embrace a "godt nok" attitude and make progress towards  an eventual position of excellence. This mindset has not yet linked a speed scrum approach to goals with a progressive good enough attitude. 

Making the decision for change

Transformational Change

Transformational Change

Outside of all the online courses and books that share/sell programs or solutions is a real world.

The real word is full of chance, disruption and external impacts. The real world is not reflected enough within best practice examples.

Your ideas of change means nothing until you commit to a decision of change. Your change may need to come in steps and a growth of experiences as such can be found adopting a Godt nok and scrum approach.

So, how do you put your goals, desires and dreams into a tangible set of actions? People and companies often commit to change at a time external effect. The core motivation of change is when a pivot point of positive change is viable and possible.

Understanding the bad day.

Feels great until a crash happens

Feels great until a crash happens

How many systems and process ideas reflect and consider an "off day"?

Example: Your leadership program insists you wake up at 5am for meditation or a run or yoga practice (or maybe all 3). Has the system considered if you had a decent night’s sleep in a comfortable bed`? Has your system considered if partner or kids did not wake you up in the middle of the night? Has your system considered you may go to a great party or fun evening when you stayed out late? If the answer is no, then you should not expect to have motivation automatically. Your motivation comes when other elements are in alignment and supportive. 

Note:You can always find the occasional super star and high achiever. These people become the news and best case example and yet we need to remind ourselves – those people are the NEWS, the exception and not the norm.

Standard distribution curve

Standard distribution curve

A basic understanding of a standard population bell curve shows the range of talents in any given measured area.

You discover that the top 5% performers are just that. They are not with the majority of people or companies who make up the other 95%. Besides, performance is rarely sustained forever. 


Most companies have a short life and most people have a peak in their careers or physical condition. This condition is normal and natural. Do not forget, you are a robot.



Your desire to be the best and deliver excellence every moment is not realistic.

Your intentions can be genuine but there is a need to be holistic and realistic, to the world and environment that you live in.

A business cannot expect to deliver the best products over night straight after too much change and little preparation. Likewise, a person cannot run 5 km if they have not ran for several years. You need to be realistic and provide yourself the permission to be with error and mistakes.

Companies try so hard to positively inspire, manipulate and control our lives to performance. You might seek to shortcut success because everyone likes a fast win and advantage. You can fall into a trap of perceiving progress should be linear improvements. Deep down we know that is not life for everyone.


Quote Life is made from an infinite  number of moments called now - James Doyle

When you create an ambition and long term goal such as the study of medicine, there are many periods of time during which the progress is not enjoyable.

I cannot tell you how many people I have met that declare their MBA as a painful boring experience. So, if you accept that life is full of moments then I suggest you should seek to make those moments as enjoyable as possible. 

Long term goals are often constructed using examples such as SMART goals. (at JAMSO we emphasize the need to extend the model to SMARTER to allow the experience to become enjoyable and rewarding.) This helps these long goals become broken down also into key moments of relaxation and reward.

SCRUM action

Time focus

Time focus

Increased productivity levels in business and social lives means traditional methods of performing tasks become redundant or less effective.

This is because of the high number of distractions and priority shifts.

Therefore the scrum concept concentrates on time as a higher priority for action than the actual result.

Goal Setting and project management

Traditional goal setting and project management have a framework of clear scope and outcome. These are then broken down into concrete levels of details. The details generate a clear expectation and then estimates the time each step will take. This is why we often see high profile project going over budget and over time. These project have focused on the scope as the priority and not the time.

Focus appropriate quality in safety

Focus appropriate quality in safety

Special Note: In areas such as safety, there should be a priority made to ensure appropriate detail levels are the regulating factors for progress. 




Shifting from project management to performance management

The world of project management will no doubt take issue with my headline. I argue that there is a difference between a project management focus and a performance management focus. This is explored better through the use of scrum project concepts. 



When a clear scope is created, its limitations of upside possibilities is controlled through the scope expectations.

However with a focus on time and speed, the limitations become only the time.

Thus providing a wider scope of downside and upside standards of performance.

Traditional projects and goals freeze the outcome scope and estimates time. Scrum freezes time and estimate the scope, so it forms progress and habit.
— James Doyle


Key Elements of the scrum and godt nok approach

To adopt scrum into a goal or project there are 5S areas:

STORY: This defines the purpose and why you are engaged on the specific task. A simple story is created via a standard template that applies to business and life.

As a <type of person/business>, I want <some goal> so that <some reason>.

The story can be so short or more complex than the above example but must keep these key elements.

SPRINTS: This is the allocated amount of time for a specific task. The fixed time and scope is not allowed to change during this period. A sprint period is not more than 30 days. The sprint is supported through the use of daily scrums. The scrum meetings are short meetings to solve challenges within the defined time line. The sprint starts with a plan, enters the sprint duration period and then reviewed at the end.

SELF ORGANISED: The accountability of taking action within a scrum project is vital for the design of its success. The relative resources made available create the framework. They also help define the scope within the limited time permitted for the sprint. An example is; during the winter months before an important exam, a marathon runner may perform strength and flexibility exercises as a priority over actual running. This is due to availability of good weather and limited time for long run training.

SCRUM: A daily scrum refers to the need for daily review, planning and commitment to take relevant action. The most time for a scrum should be not more than 15-20 minutes. The key questions covered during a daily scrum include a) what was done in the past 24 hours to move the sprint to its goal? b) What will be done within the next 24 hours to move the sprint to its goal? c) What challenges do I see within the next 24 hours to stop me achieving progress?

SHIPPED: This is the actual point of delivered progressive change. For someone learning to play the piano it could be the point where they reach the number of notes played correctly. For a business the final item of marketing material for an exhibition. The point of reaching “Shipped” status is the understanding that a standard was “Godt nok” – good enough, meets the MVP (minimal viable product) standard



The purpose of this article has been to highlight some of the key connections.

The connections made here learn from the Danish cultural approach.

We have also used a recognized framework of agile, scrum projects. These create positive change and progress. 

The benefits and relevance of scrum project management for business and personal development is below.

1)    Speed and action with variable progress reflect the reality of life.

2)    Short term focus creates a sense of urgency and creates habit.

3)    Scope and expectations change over time so scrum gathers the momentum of progress.

4)    Measurable progress and motivation where the end goal may still be unclear.

5)    Creates a collaborative mindset.

What idea or challenge do you face that could benefit a "god nok" attitude and adoption of scrum?

Further Reading and Reference

·       SMARTER goal setting

·       How to make goals and projects fly

·       We need SARAH (a model for change and crisis management)

·       The JAMSO Pinterest board with over 200+ reference tips and guides for project and change management.

JAMSO helps people and business like you transform performance. Please take the time to share this article to anyone you feel can benefit from its content directly and at least once across a social media platform. Through your help we can reach and assist more people and companies make this a better world.

Written by James Doyle, founder of JAMSO. We have over 200 free articles, tools and resources for your success.