If it ain’t broke, break it then fix it!

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Are you a proponent of the idea, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” After all, if all the wheels are turning just fine, and the machinery is humming along, why jinx it by changing something about it, right? Well, in this article we will look at why this concept can be dangerous and the better response is to break it while you can still fix it!

The world is moving faster than you can catch up to it

Let’s just take the idea of wages. The median wage in Singapore in 2013 was $3,550. In 2003, it was $2,483. (Source: http://www.singstat.gov.sg/publications/publications_and_papers/household_income_and_expenditure/pp-s20.pdf). There had been a wage increase of 43% over the last 10 years. To many people, that is really great news!

Unless of course you looked at our inflation rate. Inflation rate for 2012 was 4.6%. Compounded over 10 years, that becomes 56.7%. This means that real income has actually dropped over the past 10 years as we see nominal rate increase.

This simply means that the more we stand still, the more we will be steamrolled by the economy. Even if it ain’t broke, it’s already broke! The key, therefore is, to break it while you can afford to fix it!

What do you break?

1. Your assumptions

One of the first things that go out of whack are your assumptions and to be future-ready, you need to relook your assumptions and test them. We spoke about this in a previous article so I shall not go into it too much.

Related: Dust off your assumptions and test them!

2. Your structure

How you work is very much based on how the organisation is structured. If you have blurred lines of responsibility or poor reporting structures, these will start to hurt in time. The problem is, when it does hurt, you will be so entrenched in the structure that it would be uncomfortable to move to a new one. This might result in many organisations operating in a suboptimal structure for a long time. That is really leaving too much money on the table.

3. Your processes

For many companies, their operations just grew on them as the business grows. Most of them are not optimized to perform productively. While jury-rigging the way you do things in startup phase is good, continuing these usually unsafe practices may cause huge costs in the future if not broken quickly.

4. Your market

Many people choose to remain in the same market with the same products and services because they return a nice amount. This amount may not nearly be the full potential of the company; but unless there is a concerted effort to groom the markets, focus on the right ones for the right price, the company will continue to operate with blindfolds and one arm tied behind the back. Very quickly, the company will be beaten black and blue!

When you look at these, you will realize the you need a new status quo. The issue is that by the time you knew you needed one, you might not be in the position to afford the change – either by capital or time requirements. It is therefore important for you not to take your successes lying down, but breaking what’s working to make way for something even better!

So if it ain’t broke, break it – and then fix it up!

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