Adopting Temporary Solutions

Thinking about it, I can’t remember the last time that someone said they were proactively adopting a temporary solution to a problem!

I guess the wording ‘temporary solution’ has negative connotations as people may wish the problem to ‘go away’ so you can then focus on other matters rather than having to come back to it time and again.

Of course, all solutions are in reality temporary, it just depends on the time scale you’re considering.

However it’s an interesting way of thinking about things, as it implies you (and others) are deciding to constantly learn from experience.

In a post on the HBR Blog Network, Bregman advertises the following benefits for seeing every solution as temporary (more info in article):

  • It becomes easier to commit to.
  • It becomes easier (and faster) to implement.
  • It becomes easier to get others involved.
  • It becomes easier to pay for.
  • It becomes easier to let go when appropriate.

And proposes the following guidelines

Distinguish between a commitment to an outcome – like marriage, staying sober, being healthy, having a profitable organization – and a commitment to the tools you use to fulfill/achieve that outcome. The tools can be fleeting while the outcome can be permanent.

Understand the value you’re getting and why. Then decide on the evidence that will indicate it’s no longer providing that value. That way you’ll know when it’s time to move on.

Decide when you’re going to reassess. It doesn’t help to constantly second-guess yourself. That makes it impossible to follow through; you’ll give up in a moment of weakness only to regret it later. Instead, decide when you’re going to reassess, and commit fully until then.

It sounds promising, so I’m going to employ this approach for the next few months to see where it gets me!


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