Most work becomes a series of urgent events and tasks. We run from one urgency to the next, constantly fixing things to make them work better at the moment. Solving these urgencies gives us a great feeling of satisfaction. That was broken and I fixed it! Oh wait, there’s another one…
This might be the biggest cancer in organizations.
Quick fixes don’t ever really solve the underlying problem of why something isn’t working the way it should. We rarely work to solve the core issue and put a permanent solution in place. The time that does happen is usually after someone gets fired and the entire process has collapsed under a mountain of urgent fixes that have been cobbled together over months and years.
I see this on a monthly basis with leaders I speak with. I’m lucky to be on the front side of many of these conversations with leaders new in position who are working on building it the ‘right’ way. Finally, trying to get away from urgent fixes and put permanent solutions into play. To jump off the treadmill and add some finality to the process.
“We have always done it this way“.
That statement has gotten a bad reputation. We make fun of people who say it. When in reality, we should all be striving to say this statement. We’ve always done it this way because it freaking works amazingly! We had a problem. We worked our butts off to find the right solution for the long term, and unsurprisingly, it works and we kept doing it.
Jumping from one shiny new thing to the next, adding in stuff to cover up something that stopped working for now, because we don’t have time to truly fix the root cause, has become the norm for almost every department and function we have in organizations.
We’ve lost the view of “oh, I might have to live what I’m building here for the next twenty years, so I should probably make it work properly.” Instead, it’s “yeah, our process sucks, but we (add in excuse here), so we’ll just have to deal with it for now”. “For now” means until I either find a new job, or I get fired, or I move to another job or department.
I hate workarounds.
When someone tells me they are going to do something as a workaround I immediately have anxiety. Because what I hear is, “I don’t want to fix this the right way” I would rather fix it temporarily so it can be someone else’s issue down the road.
We have this belief that we can’t stop and fix things the way they should be. We don’t have the time, we can’t stop what we are doing. Until of course you get fired or leave, then someone ‘magically’ has the time to fix it the right way.
The worse spot you can be in is a cobbled mess of systems, processes, and people who don’t give a shit. If you find yourself in this spot there are only two options: 1. Leave; 2. Stop everything and fix it the right way.