If It Ain’t Broke…
I’m not great at cliches; my fourth grade English teacher beat out of me that cliches had any value in communication. Anyone who regularly speaks with me knows that when I try to use one, it make nearly no sense. I was trying to say “look what the cat dragged in” the other day, and it came out something like “just what the nurse prescribed.”
We’re all likely familiar with what seems to be an ancient cliche “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” (It’s not ancient; it comes from the Jimmy Carter era! But if it were, it would look something like: si fractum non sit noli id reficere.). Somehow, in my mind the cliche translates to: if something is working reasonably well, leave it alone.
I’ve never been a proponent of leaving things be. In fact, after experiencing a catastrophic incident in which lives were lost during my career in school transportation, I believed the opposite was better: if you’re not changing and evolving, you’re stagnating and waiting for the worst to happen.
Somewhere in the middle, I think, is the best approach. Some things are time-tested and should be – for the most part – left alone. In the evolution of school buses for example, the school bus that we have now is very similar to the bus we remade in 1977. Some things have changed, and technology offers more safety features, but the basic model that people see rolling down the road is the same.
We would be remiss, however, if we weren’t adding those enhanced safety features!
All business is like that. Some things should remain unchanged. Being able to discern which things should change and which shouldn’t requires gut instinct, knowledge of business financial status, and immersion in the latest trends and technologies available to an industry.
After all, says Colin Powell, “‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is the slogan of the complacent, the arrogant, or the scared. It’s an excuse for inaction, a call to non-arms.”