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Pulling Cows out of Ditches?

There's an old story about what a farmer does when a cow falls into a ditch. First he gets it out of the ditch. Second he works out why it fell into the ditch in the first place. Then he makes sure that it never falls into the ditch again.

How much of your time do you spend pulling metaphorical cows out of ditches? The trouble is that when something goes wrong at work, we often pull the cow out of the ditch, but don't do anything about working out why it went wrong or mending the fence. The result is that we find ourselves pulling the cow out of the ditch over and over again.

To give a familiar example, suppose we keep losing customers' telephone numbers. Again and again we spend time looking for numbers without asking ourselves "Why did I lose the number in the first place?" The answer is probably that we don't have a proper system for ensuring that customer's data gets entered in our database. Identifying that as the problem is stage two. Stage three is putting a proper system in place.

Whenever you find something going wrong, take the time to work out why it went wrong and ensure that it can't happen again. That way a small investment of time will save you huge amounts of time in the future.

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