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June 12, 2006

No Permanent Fixes

Here's another suggestion for the We Have Always Done it That Way folks.

There are no permanent fixes. The team I work with is pretty good about this, but I've been in environments where the stakeholders honestly believe they can solve problems "once and for all." It's a tempting and convenient notion, but a deeply flawed one.

I've seen people get extremely frustrated when a new wrinkle emerges, saying, "Didn't we just discuss this six months ago?" The trouble with this approach to problem solving is that our environments are in a state of permanent whitewater, and yesterday's best available solution may no longer be today's best available solution.

In the same way that association executives and all business professionals need to take an iterative approach to strategy and management, problem solving needs to be viewed as an evolutionary activity. You solve a problem, but that creates a new problem. Or perhaps circumstances change and it is no longer the best solution. We need to constantly evaluate our solutions and challenge our assumptions that prior solutions are still relevant. A lot of negativity could be avoided if stakeholders would realize that permanent fixes are a myth and that previously arrived-at solutions need to be reconsidered from time to time.

Again, this is just a seed of an idea and needs to be fleshed out.


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