The best coffeemaker we have ever owned has a fatal flaw – the brew basket started to crack almost immediately after we got it. The manufacturer must know because they no longer make the pot or the basket so we can’t replace the part. I still brew excellent coffee but it requires the help of an oversized rubber band. The positive? It cost me exactly nothing. The negative? The basket will eventually deteriorate to the point where my fix isn’t sufficient. It may not even outlast the rubber band. This is not a long-term solution.
And that is the problem with workarounds – they may get you by for longer than you ever imagined but they’re rarely a long-term solution. Worse yet, these temporary fixes often become institutionalized because they are repeated so often and for so long that no one can remember doing it any other way. At best, you’re building inefficiency into your process. At worst, you’re building a system that is unsustainable and will collapse at some point.
Have you hit on an ingenious solution or built yourself a house of cards? To test your workaround, ask these questions:
Would I continue to do it this way if…
- I were building this system from scratch?
- Money were no object?
- I had the time to really dig into the problem?
- I had to explain to a peer (or a customer) how and why I do it this way?
- I were training someone else to do it?
At this point I’m not sure how I’ll solve my long-term issue. But I’m pretty sure I’m now ready for another cup of coffee.
What’s the best (or worst) workaround you’ve ever fashioned? Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.