If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It. Why Not?

Aug 15, 2014
Joe Buhlig
~2 mins

We’ve always done it that way. But it works. Why change it? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. When I hear these phrases I cringe. Yes, it works. Yes, it’s a smooth system. Yes, we’re familiar with it. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t change.

Confession: I’m one of those weird people that really likes change and thrives on it. But not everything needs to change all the time. I know that there are times when the status quo is a good thing. Too much change too fast can have very bad results. And change for the sake of change doesn’t make sense either. That’s when these questions can help.

Here are 4 questions to ask when you hear those cringe-inducing phrases:

1. Has the technology changed?

The tools at our disposal change every day. New apps or devices are always being created. And chances are that one of them will help you become more effective or efficient in some way.

Adopting new technology can sometimes prevent negative thoughts by customers. If you walked into a doctor’s office and heard the secretary using a typewriter, what would you think? Would you wonder if they were up on the latest ways of treating patients? If they haven’t adopted a computer for paperwork yet, can you trust that they will know what’s happened in medicine in the last 20 years?

2. Are the people different?

Sometimes a system or service is built around the people involved and the skill-sets they bring to the table. If the people change, the current systems might not make sense anymore. Or maybe you have new eyes on the process. They’ll have a new perspective that helps them see it differently.

3. Is it relevant?

Does the process or tool still accomplish its goal? Should you be doing it at all? Sometimes we work to put a system in place and it treats us well. But over time it becomes unnecessary. It doesn’t provide value anymore.

Data duplication is the most common form I’ve seen of this one. If you’re entering information into one system and then copying it into another, chances are that one of the two needs to disappear.

4. Has the purpose changed?

Has your business changed? Do you find yourself trying to make an old tool work with your new goal? Maybe you’re trying to make something work when you should really step back and look at the overall process. It’s good to stick with tools that you know. But when you’re spending a lot of time working to make a tool work, you might need to re-evaluate the tool. I had to do this when I switched from Evernote to Omnifocus for task management. It took a couple weeks to switch, but it has been well worth the time.