A stitch in time saves nine, well not always... How band-aid solutions can cost your company in the long run
Quick fix, don't we love them. And that's fair enough. When an unforeseen problem is identified, there's a sense of urgency that comes with it. Everything has to be solved like, yesterday...
But what if solving the issue right away was a big waste of time and money? Let’s go back in time and take the example of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC.
In the late 1980’s US National Parks managers noticed that the memorial was crumbling at such an alarming rate that it would quickly become dangerous to visitors. When they tried to figure out why, they realised it was washed with strong chemicals far more frequently than any of the other DC memorials. So, there you go, investigation could have stopped there. The solution had been found: reduce the cleaning frequency to match those of the other memorials.
But luckily, they didn’t stop there. They went out and asked themselves, why was it cleaned more often in the first place? Fair question right. And from there, their quest to find the actual why went ever further to actually find the root cause of the issue.
Here is a quick summary:
Why #1 – Why is the monument deteriorating?
- Because powerful chemicals are frequently used to clean the monument.
Why #2 – Why are powerful chemicals needed?
- To clean off the excessive volume of bird droppings on the monument.
Why #3 – Why is there an excessive volume of bird droppings on the monument?
- Because the large population of spiders in and around the monument are a food source to the local birds.
Why #4 – Why is there a large population of spiders in and around the monument?
- Because vast swarms of flying insects, on which the spiders feed, are drawn to the monument at dusk.
Why #5 – Why are swarms of insects drawn to the monument at dusk?
- Because the lighting at the monument in the evening attracts the local insects.
All along the lighting was the issue. Once they fixed, the problem was solved for good and long term, not a temporary patch that would have needed further investigation, more time spent to pick everything up from the start again, more investment to get more people looking at the issue.
Band-aid solutions are tempting because they are a way to solve, so you think, the problem right away. No one likes uncertainty and it feels good to solve something quickly (we are in a time of instant gratification after all).
But instant solutions are often short-lived and don't always solve the roots of the issue. By taking a step back and thinking strategically about a situation, we can maximise our impact and increase our chances of long-lasting success.
Have you ever faced that kind of situation before? We realise that taking the most strategic approach is not always an easy choice. It can also be difficult to implement what you think is the best way.
At The Outperformer we are all about working with organisations to help them make their grand plans come to life. Feel free to reach out to us directly to explore your projects at [email protected]