We have a new refrigerator.
Lest you think this was a hasty decision, let me just say that we bought the old one the year my son Evan was born. He turned 24 this week.
And this new one, I must say, is (literally) quite cool.
Side-by-side doors, whisper-quiet motor, and a stainless steel, “smudge-proof” exterior. And, as any self-respecting, 21st century refrigerator must have, a water and ice dispenser on the outside.
Like I said, cool.
That is, until earlier this week when our new technological wonder suddenly stopped making ice.
Why? I don’t know, I’m not a scientist. Maybe it decided that climate change is just a hoax and the world doesn’t need any more ice.
Whatever the reason, you’ll be happy to know that after some initial panic on my part (we’ve got friends coming over this weekend and we need ice), I was able to Google my way to the cause:
The icemaker works; the pump that delivers the water to the icemaker has failed.
And then I had a brilliant idea.
By taking everything off of the top shelf, and then removing the shelf itself, I could manually pour about eight ounces of water at a time into the icemaker. At which point, it immediately began working.
It wasn’t a lot of ice, but enough that after two or three cycles of adding water and waiting several hours for the icemaker to do its thing, we could get by until the repair guy comes next week.
I don’t mind telling you, I was feeling quite proud of my MacGyver-like workaround of this very high-end piece of machinery. (You’re welcome, America.)
That is, until last night, when my 17-year-old son, Jonathan, made an observation:
“Hey dad. Why did you bother with all that shelf removing and water filling? Why didn’t you just fill a couple of ice trays and stick them in the freezer, like we always did with the old fridge?”
Me: “Oh. Right. I guess that might have worked too.” (Damn kids.)
The reason Jonathan’s simple solution didn’t occur to me, I now realize, is because I misdiagnosed the problem.
What I thought the problem was: An automatic icemaker that didn’t work.
What the problem actually was: No ice.
And so off I went to fix the icemaker, instead of stepping back and thinking about alternative ways to get some ice.
As business owners, we often fall into the same trap, fixating on improvements to a “machine” as opposed to finding ways to achieve a particular solution:
We obsess over how many newsletter subscribers we have, without thinking about why we have a newsletter in the first place.
We find ways to automate our social media participation, forgetting that the key word in social media is “social.”
We work to get better at closing prospects and raising fees, but give little thought to whether or not we’re selling the right things to begin with.
You get the picture.
I’ve been making ice successfully for decades. But the minute I was presented with an “icemaker problem,” I completely forgot the greater goal, in the name of repairing the machine.
So try this.
Take a step back and have a fresh look at the tools, metrics and processes you use in running your business. I have no doubt that most of them make good sense and serve you well.
That said, I’m willing to bet you’ve got a few “icemaker repair projects” under way that don’t.
- What’s the oldest working appliance in your home (extra credit if it’s your husband)?
- What’s the coolest thing your refrigerator does?
- Can you think of a tool, metric or process in your business that no longer serves you?
Share your comments below!
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