Monday, January 11, 2010

Workarounds – Dreaded or Welcomed?

labyrinth photo courtesy user: ctechs An associate was telling me about his friend being surprised when he referred to workarounds as waste. His friend had a positive perception of the term workaround. Why?

I can see why, for many, it could be considered positive. It is generally the last option before “impossible”, “failure”, or “no can do”. Anything better than failure is positive, at least in some light.

What image does workaround convey to me?

More than twenty four hours of consecutive problem solving under the intense pressure that tomorrow the customer will start charging $10,000/hour for downtime on their line because they are out of parts. The closer you get to the crisis the more likely you stray from looking for the solution to looking for a workaround. At 11:00am the next day that workaround looks pretty good – finally some sleep. But even with that comfort in hand you know it will be short-lived and others will have to deal with the extra effort it almost always requires to manage and operate a workaround.

Not all problems end in crisis as described above, but if you don’t think of them that way, it can limit your perception that things can be better. Workarounds are wasteful of time, money, and resources because they are either unreliable, inefficient, or unsafe. At best they should be considered temporary.

Below is the famous Rube Goldberg style Honda commercial. There’s got to be an easier way to close your trunk.