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The One Thought That Causes Every Organization To Fail

Unpacking the tendency to find a solution without fixing the underlying problem

John Mashni
3 min readJun 24, 2021

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“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.”

Avoiding Issues

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.

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John Mashni

I only write about what I have done: no theory. Writer, Attorney, Entrepreneur, Movie Producer, and more… the ONLY 3 ways to reinvent: goo.gl/S1Lu6x