When Breaking Isn’t Bad

“Everything has a time, and everything dies.” ( The Doctor, Season 1, Episode 2)

That’s a nice way of saying nothing lasts forever. And given that it is inevitable that things, whether they be machines, systems or relationships can all break down, it’s important to have a mindset that sees ‘broken’ as a normal part of the cycle, and not an affront to our capabilities.

“Broken allows us to change, and change brings opportunity.”

A diagram to illustrate how things go from broken to fixed.

The first step to fixing a problem is to recognise that you have a problem – ‘it’s broken’. Whether there is yolk on the floor, or customers drifting away, something’s broken, and action is needed. What we do next defines just how much of a problem we have, not just with the broken pieces at hand, but with our systems.

If we identify just how this thing got broken, then we can remedy that as well; now it is unlikely we will have this happen again. If we just fix the break, but allow the cause to remain, we are putting ourselves at risk of further failure. The ‘WHY’ is every bit as important as the ‘HOW’.

Of course, there are those that can never admit that things are broken. To do that would be to accept that things need fixing, and that may be seen as being too hard (“We don’t have enough people!”), too expensive (“We don’t have enough money!”), or just unthinkable (“That’s not how we’ve done it before!”).

The first two are ‘material’ objections; they can be overcome by allocating or re-directing resources, if not immediately then over time. The latter is more worrying and occurs when people are unwilling to break with the past, where tradition dictates a reaction, rather than a reasoned response producing the desired result.

If we accept that things are broken, but deny we have the responsibility or means to fix it, then again we remain at risk of further failures. When we don’t learn from history (this has broken before), we are indeed destined to repeat it (it’s broken again). Any organisation that can’t adapt and evolve will face extinction.

Oh, and as my Grandpa used to say…”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Change for the sake of change is never a good strategy.





About Jeff Polley

I'm interested in life and making the most of it. I have a fondness for good coffee and scintillating conversation. I don't act my age. For more you can follow me on Twitter - @xmpieman
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