Are You Taking the Easy Route?

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Quick & easyWe all love to get things done quickly. With limited time and resources, it is good to keep moving as there is abundant work competing for our attention. However, taking the easy route is not always the best. There are 5 reasons why you need to be cautious:

  1. Overlook important details—The trivial information immediately available seems to provide sufficient support to take action. But the crux of the problem points to another issue. Without spending the appropriate effort to understand the symptoms, the quick reaction could be presumptuous. For example, the end of the month is always busy for accounting because of the month-end work. Freeing up resources to work on the month-end work is an easy way to handle the crunch. It doesn’t address the issue around the cumbersome approach for month-end work.
  2. Neglect to engage the right people—Discussions and collaboration take time. People tend to shy away from engaging others outside their workgroup or department. The mindset is that involving others would slow things down. As a result, a narrow view of the problem constitutes a simple solution that is inadequate. For example, a high return rate of the products sold creates a backlog for the warehouse. Marketing and sales need to be aware of the issue and investigate the reasons for the return. Customer Support reps need to be aware of the cause so that they know how to address any potential return inquiries, which might help to minimize returns.
  3. Attempt to circumvent rules—Quick solutions are often workarounds that bypass certain rules. The concern is that it sets precedence and it could become a bad practice. For example, the accountant has problems with issuing invoices because the shop mechanics don’t enter the right material numbers for the work order. The accountant goes to the foreman for help because he is an expert. With good intent, the foreman has created a reliance on him while the shop mechanics continue to make mistakes. The foreman has taken on a new task which is not within the scope of his responsibilities.
  4. Create unforeseen problems—Every solution has pros and cons. An easy solution could address a problem now but it might result in other problems that won’t show up until the solution works through the system. For example, adding a data field in a student registration software application to capture the data for identifying which accounts would be charged special fees. In order to link the data field for proper accounting, more thorough thinking is needed so that the student’s account is tracked every time there is a fee-related transaction. Otherwise, accounting has a reconciliation problem.
  5. Compromise the original intent—A ‘good enough’ solution looks and feels adequate under certain circumstances. In hind sight, it contradicts the purpose of the solution. For example, a monthly report is created to identify the frequency of procurement non-compliance. The intent is to show how often purchases are made without obtaining the proper approvals. The manager who reviews the report follows up with each case and determines whether it is truly non-compliant. As year-end bonuses are tied to the number of non-compliances. There is a bias to avoid counting a case or two. The report is not well defined and it won’t provide true data for monitoring non-compliance.

Before you jump to a quick and easy solution, consider the above and determine whether there are undesirable effects that are of concern. Easy solutions are not necessarily inadequate. There are situations where time is of essence and a temporary, easy solution is needed to get over the hurdle.

© Connie Siu 2014. All rights reserved.


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