Byron's Babbles

Temporary, Quick, or Permanent

Posted in Adaptive Leadership, Agriculture, Global Leadership, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 27, 2020
Wire Vs. Zip Tie

I am writing this post not exactly knowing where it will end up. I’m not sure if I will end with an opinion, advice, or just a collection of thoughts. This post, like many, was inspired in the barn this morning before the sun came up and in an hour before most even think about getting up – it’s such inspirational time for me. A lot of people spend their morning mindfulness time on a yoga mat or in a gym; mine is spent in the barn. I wouldn’t have it any other way. This morning when I got to the barn a feeder that hangs on a gate for one of our baby calves had come loose. It had come loose because I had done a quick fix the other night just using a plastic zip tie. I remembered thinking at the time, “this is not going to last very long, but I don’t feel like getting the wire out and fixing it that way.” In full transparency, I wanted to get inside and watch Game 4 of the World Series.

Well, this morning the plastic ties were broke and I was faced with fixing again. So, I got the wire out and did it “right.” This got me to thinking, “what constitutes right?” Think about all the “fix” decisions that are made whether by company, school, government, community, et cetera. Think about the names we assign “fixes”: makeshift, stopgap, salvage, life hack, workaround, and so on. Call them what you want, but almost every day we need to come up with temporary fixes and move on. I would not necessarily call this a bad thing.

Take for instance if I have one more round in a field mowing hay and something breaks on the mower-conditioner. I might be able to make a temporary fix (using wire or duct tape, of course!) and then make the permanent fix later. Not a bad thing – the job got done. Or, let’s use a school example. The internet goes down during a lesson. The creative teacher has any number of plan B’s that can come into play – learning goes on and the tech people make the fix (notice I did not say permanent fix – it doesn’t seem that problem can every be permanently fixed 😉). Additionally, sometimes there is no solution even developed yet, so a temporary fix must do.

Example of temporary fix to think about: Donut spare tires are not made for extended service, but they will get you home or to a tire store for repair or replacement of the tire you have put the donut on in place of. An innovation because it takes up very little space in your car.

The stopgaps of the temporary fix do allow for time when devising fixes or developing a whole new product. Workarounds show those we serve that we do truly understand there is a need for a solution. The one thing I have experienced first hand here, however, is that companies should not over-promise, particularly related to timeline. Do not tell the customer what they want to hear – be honest and conservative on the timeline. The old saying “under promise and over deliver” applies here.

The other thing I will note here that warrants a new paragraph is that sometimes admitting that there is not a solution available is refreshing. Sometimes there is a solution available from another provider. I do know it is very refreshing to have a vendor say, “We can’t do that, but here is someone who can.” Guess what? I will probably be back with the vendor who tells me that at some point.

Some time a quick fix is needed, if nothing else, to make the customer happy in the moment. Think about about my zip tie fix; I knew it was not permanent and that it would not last, but it got me through a moment that I was not wanting to spend a lot of time repairing something. We are such creatures of instant gratification and sometimes the quick fix just seems to be the way to go.

Lastly, there are many instances that temporary and quick fixes that were very creative, have turned into innovations. Some would argue that most individual attempts to innovate are makeshift, quick fixes. I even recently saw the term “improvised quick fix” used. As a farm kid I know that farmers have been doing this for years. In fact, really paying attention to quick or temporary fixes needed, might be the best way to monitor customer needs for new innovation.

No doubt we should always be looking toward the permanent solution, but we don’t want to forget to really put thought into our temporary and quick fixes. They have value as well. In fact we might just be devising the next great breakthrough idea.

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