This week’s riff: We have now lived in our new house for five months. When we moved in we had no curtains or blinds, and so my wife ordered a great product called Blinds-In-A-Box. The next day a box full of concertinaed paper blinds arrived and we used them as a temporary solution until we had sorted out ‘proper’ window treatments.

I’m sure you can guess what’s happened since then. Nothing! The paper blinds are still here, each one kept up by a pair of clothes pegs.

Temporary solutions are often essential, but can limit the effectiveness of your organization if they are used as permanent responses. At one of my clients, for example, managers created a ‘quality management team’ at the end of the production line in response to a period of quality problems.

This team checked each product and made adjustments to each item if there were small problems, or returned the product to production if the issues were more severe.

The problem was that two years later the ‘quality management team’ was still there. It had become part of the system, raising the cost and slowing the speed of operations. Rather than addressing the cause of the problems – the skills of the production teams and the design of the production process – managers had simply focused on the symptoms of the problems and had institutionalized their temporary solutions.

Where might you be blinded to institutionalized ‘temporary’ solutions in your business? And what improvements in speed, efficiency and effectiveness could you deliver if you focused on the underlying cause of your issues rather than their symptoms?


Off The Record: Blinded By The Light by Bruce Springsteen

Yeah, he was blinded by the light

Oh, cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night

Blinded by the light

He got down, but he never got tight

But he’s going to make it tonight


© Stuart Cross 2017. All rights reserved.