Haste makes waste.
That truism is never more true than when it comes to problem solving. When you rush to solve a problem you run the risk of actually making the problem worse. You may misidentify the problem and end up “solving” a symptom. It could appear that the problem is gone but it’s seldom gone for long. When it comes back it’s often bigger and it’s often more expensive to solve.
Misidentifying a problem, failing to discover the root cause of an issue, is the single biggest mistake a problem-solver can make. Yet it’s made all the time. I think it’s because too many people aim to instantly fix a problem.
We live in a world where Minute Rice just isn’t fast enough anymore. We want everything now, immediately, if not sooner. We especially want problems solved, preferably before anyone knows there’s a problem.
Sometimes it’s best to slow down and live with a problem for a while.
When we live with a problem for a bit we get to know it, we understand it more. We know it’s origins and it’s likely our solution will be much better. Not only better but permanent.
Slowing down does not mean doing nothing. Study the problem, discuss it, look at it from different angles. Learn from it, above all, learn about it. The best problem-solvers have patience and they know enough to never mistake procrastination for that patience. Never forget, there is a difference between moving a little more slowly and not moving at all.
Do not slow down because you don’t know what to do, slow down so that you will know with certainty what needs to be done.
Some people see more in a walk around the block than others see in a trip around the world. Great problem-solvers, like great leaders, walk slowly through the halls, they listen, watch and learn with every step.
Now a good number of people reading this post will say slowing down is a luxury that they can’t afford. They have to “get it done” ASAP! Time is money! You know how it goes.
But you also know that if you don’t have the time to fix it right the first time you’ll never have the time to do it a second time. A shortage of time is EXACTLY the reason you should slow down.
So save yourself some time, slow down and solve the problem once.
There’s no rush to do it twice.