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How treating the symptoms can sometimes be the best cure
You know when people say, “Those are band-aid solutions. What we really need is a whole new approach.” Or: “Let’s not just treat the symptoms, but get at the root cause.”
Seems to make sense, right?
But what’s the end result? Are things now done in a fundamentally different way? And did it work to find the true source of the problem and start there?
Let me know if you have a different experience, but I find that these sorts of remarks often have—if anything—the opposite effect. Energy for that new initiative drops (or even for showing initiative at all). Meanwhile the basic situation remains unchanged, the root cause of the issue is never identified, and the problem persists.
If you find yourself offering this kind of feedback: stop. Reflect on what your remarks can lead to. Well-meaning feedback can backfire. In fact, I’m more and more convinced that as long as you don’t think someone else’s idea causes direct harm, it’s better to keep your two cents to yourself. Even when you’re asked for your opinion. Simply offer encouragement instead. “I don’t have anything to add. I’d say go for it!”
And when it’s your own plans and ideas in the spotlight, ignore any comments that sap your energy. Focus on taking concrete, tangible steps forward—however small and incremental they may seem.
Demonstrably useful things are demonstrably useful. That’s what makes them so good. Unlike those endless discussions about the fundamentals of what you’re working on, which often don’t end up having any discernible effect.
Demonstrably useful things are also so good because they’re super appealing—almost irresistibly so. They never fail to draw others in.
I remember back at Blendle—by no means a sluggish organization—people had been talking for years about creating a much simpler back office system for customer service. The discussion tended to get bogged down in complexities. Until one weekend, I just decided to try and build the thing. It ended up helping the team out on some 70% of their issues with the old back office.
Discussions about the setup didn’t magically go away, but they were less charged and less relevant, really, once the team indicated they could work with the new system just fine. It was a starting point for all kinds of little added fixes. Plus it motivated the team to go ahead and improve things where they could.
So: concentrate on matters that will directly improve the situation at hand. And don’t get distracted by those who label your solutions quick fixes that only help with the symptoms. Treating the symptoms is often exactly what’s needed to address urgent problems. It gives everyone more time and space to also get going on that long-term repair work that truly gets to the bottom of things.
Have a good week!
produced by the language girl