If it isn’t broken – break it, if it is broken – ask somebody how to fix it

Yesterday I saw this video from 2006 of a lecture by Seth Godin (for better quality see here). It is a fascinating and highly entreating talk. In it, Godin describes how so many things are “broken”, and by “broken” he means just stupid, non-cooperative with the client or non efficient.

I don’t know about you, but the feeling he describes is something that I feel almost every day. You see something and you ask yourself – why is that? Why can’t they make it simpler? Or easier to use? Or just plain efficient? Now, you can cast doubt if all the examples are really “broken”. That is what the commenter’s on the Boing-Boing blog do. But I think doing that is missing the point.

I think two of the main points are:

1. “It is not my job” – Godin claims that many things are broken because the people who can fix it, say: “it is not my job”. I think this thinking is so common we don’t even notice it anymore. When we encounter it, it frustrates us, but it seems reasonable to us. We say to ourselves: “what can we do? It is probably not his job”. Why?

Ask yourself. If you think about a way to change something, to make it better, what do you do? Do you go to your manager? Do you put it in a suggestion box? Or do you just give up and say to yourself: “well, nobody is going to listen to me anyway”.

Now, wear the other hat. When is the last time you went to your employees or team members and asked them – “what would you change?”. These are the people who usually say “it is not my job”. They usually know already what is broken and how to change it. Go and ask them.

Some places are already doing that. Check out “My Starbuck Idea“. Think about all the sites that allow anybody to write an applet. “Hey, this site should allow you to do this. Maybe I will just write an applet for that” or “hey, I should be able to do this with my IPhone, I can write an applet for that”.

2. “Broken on purpose” – this is a point Godin makes all the time, especially in his bookpurple cow“. In order for something to succussed, it needs to be remarkable, meaning that people will make a remark about that. You create it by creating an exceptional product, or you just make it plain different. Maybe it is time to break your product?

Elad

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2 Responses to “If it isn’t broken – break it, if it is broken – ask somebody how to fix it”

  1. Seth is wrong « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] a sustainable strategy. If all we do is try and concentrate on trying to fix something that we have broken, even if we do the best fixing job possible, in the end – the customer will give up. If you get […]

  2. Best posts on The Comparative Advantage for 2009 (and a little more) « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] If it isn’t broken – break it, if it is broken – ask somebody how to fix it […]


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