The One Thought That Causes Every Organization To Fail
“Why hasn’t this problem been fixed?” I asked. “It’s been going on for years.”
I was sitting down with a mentor. We were discussing a problem that I was experiencing and trying to resolve. I had a few ideas but wasn’t sure what to do. It was an institutional problem — not one that I created, but rather one that had existed for some time.
“That’s easy,” my mentor quickly said. “Someone chose a solution that didn’t fix the underlying problem.”
There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.
— H.L. Mencken
I could not understand how someone else could see this same issue and not try to fully and finally fix it. I wanted to confront the problem with aggressive action. I wanted to cut through the confusion and inaction and just solve the problem. I felt the pain of letting the problem linger.
Why didn’t someone else fix this before me?
My mentor explained: people before me saw the problem, but found a way to deal with the problem for themselves only, and then moved on. It was a way to avoid the issue rather than confront it head-on.
It struck me as selfish, though that may be a bit harsh. Still, it’s painful to think about a group of people who avoid solving a problem after they figure out a way to live with it.
Seven Ounces Further
My mentor continued, “In most organizations, there is a tendency to find solutions that don’t fix the underlying problem. Yet, it doesn’t take much work to solve the actual problem. It only takes an extra seven ounces of pressure — just a little more effort.”
He explained that fixing the underlying problem doesn’t take much work, time, or energy. But it does take a little bit extra. It is a little easier, at the moment, to use the temporary solution rather than the permanent one. But fixing a problem with a temporary solution as a strategy results in a permanent problem.