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Do You Over-Engineer Solutions?

When the US space program was sending people into outer space it was reported that $12 million was spent on a pen that would write at zero gravity. The result was a technical marvel that once again showed American ingenuity at its best……but the Russians achieved the same practical result at zero cost by arming their astronauts with a pencil.

This seems to be a classic case of an over-engineered solution that comes from a think tank rather than a do tank mentality. While most of the people that I deal with don’t have spare resources to play with on anything like the scale of the US Government, there is still a tendency to make over-complicated choices and get away from first principles when looking at a problem that needs a solution.

Are you guilty of this?  Here are five simple questions you can ask your team when coming up with a solution to identify how practical and simplistic it is:

Ø  What is the real problem we are trying to solve?

Ø  Have we evaluated all the potential solutions, no matter how far-fetched?

Ø  What is the cost and how does it relate to the value when implemented?   

Ø  Have we asked all the people involved for their input?

Ø  Have we given it 30 days before charging ahead with implementation?

As the business owner you must also make sure that there is no ego involved….sometimes the pencil really is the most practical and cost-effective solution.