Recently I was invited to a meeting to discuss a problem. Actually, in truth, I was invited to be shown a solution. I suppose that the people attending wanted approval for their approach.
I guess the solution was a good one. It was to solve the problem of data organization. How would we find it? How would we deal with an audit?
The fix was comprehensive. It took into account everything that could go wrong. Nothing was left out and it felt safe. The only problem was that it was complicated. As the whiteboard was filled with lines, boxes and diagrams, I realized that the solution would soon turn into a problem in and of itself.
Complexity leads to lack of use. It leads to adoption failure. And we were on that path.
I listened carefully to understand. Finally, I asked a question.
"What is the bare minimum you have to do now to solve the immediate problem?"
That changes the whole conversation. Bare minimum? What was that? What is the immediate problem? What is the real goal?
I've been in more than one meeting where we solve potential problems rather than actual ones. Problems seem to have babies and procreate faster than a rabbit on fertility drugs.
There is no need to commit to a solution for an imagined problem. There is no need to imagine problems. The 100% solution can solve all of the potential problems. But let's be honest; not all of the problems ever happen.
A better approach is to solve the problems as they come up. And this is what this team was now presented with. What was the real problem? What was the solution? What was the bare minimum to accomplish the goal.
I let the team talk about it. Honestly, when the meeting was over, I wasn't sure what they would do and I didn't want to overly influence them. The following week, they came to me and told me they had solved the solution much more simply. In fact, it was already in place and working; much easier than the weeks of development planned for the original solution.
And the best part - they can still evolve. There will be room for future growth. There will be time to experiment and evolve. There will be a chance to solve the world's problems. We just don't have to do it now.