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The problem that just is never quite bad enough

There's a thing about a problem being a pain in the neck, but not quite bad enough, that means sometimes people put up with stuff for ages, that really should have been fixed long ago. 

Take policy documents and renewal letters in the insurance industry.

With perhaps just one or two exceptions, they are pretty bad. Neither attractive, nor functional. They are complicated documents, that, in many ways hark back to an era before computing. The concept of taking a standard set of terms and conditions and stapling a specific schedule of personalised details to it would not be invented today. But it isn't catastrophically bad. Or wasn't. The recent review of conduct and culture may begin to elevate some systems issues up the priority list, and hopefully this will join them. 

The problem, if you like, of the problem, that isn't quite bad enough could be seen through another lens. Think of the myriad small jobs at home that you probably don't get around to tackling until your fierce Aunt Mabel is coming to visit. Then you  look at the little paint jobs, the dodgy, handle, the fiddly lock, the carport clear out, and the junk in the spare room with a different pair of eyes. Then you get on with them. 

Curiously, Seth Godin has also identified another type of problem - not one too small to get priority, but just so big and unsolvable that you live with it. It becomes 'just part of the weather'. That's fair enough - I like to say "it is what it is" when faced with problems like this. But the unfortunate thing is that the habit of accepting the problem becomes routine. You get used to it not being solvable. So when suddenly someone comes along and finds an answer... you are stunned. You may even criticise the people that fixed it for not 'playing by the rules' somehow. It is worth challenging yourself from time to time on just what the 'rules' really are, and what is merely culture, tradition, or habit. 

Read Seth Godin's excellent post in full here

 

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