Why Things Sometimes Break When You Try to Improve Them – and What to Do About It

Ever tried to improve something, and then you find that instead of creating betterment, your efforts caused the thing to break?

You organise your office or hard drive and suddenly you can’t find a thing.

You’re running an ad campaign and it’s working and you go in to change a few things – and suddenly numbers drop.

You have a handy little checklist for routines that keeps you executing on the important work, you decide to expand and improve it, and suddenly you don’t see any clarity, no right next actions, and you stop doing the work.

An example for me was Twitter, a few years ago. Used to be great fun, got me clients too, but then I decided to set up lists and columns, and follow a large number of people – and suddenly my entire group of social connections were distributed according to business-y labels and buried under people I’d not gotten to know yet… and I just couldn’t enjoy it any more.

Or that time I had all my projects and tasks set up so well in Todoist and it really worked – but then I changed a bunch of stuff, and suddenly I had no more clarity on all the different items and my productivity crashed… much in the way buildings would crash into the ground if that were the thing buildings tend to do.

When you try to improve something and you find it broke or stopped working, it’s because you changed so much, you lost control and clarity.

You introduced entropy into the system. That’s where that awful feeling of confusion and overwhelm comes from, right when you thought you’d improved things: disorder, chaos, no clarity.

And that loss of control and clarity is deadly for your productivity and results.

The normal thing to do is keep chipping away, trying to improve on your improvements.

But you’re wading through molasses, because that clarity and control are missing.

Much better, faster, and easier to revert to the last known functional state of things.

Yes, I’m advocating downgrading the upgrades you make, each time you find that the upgrade broke something.

It’ll be quick, it’ll give you clarity, and then you’ll be able to make new decisions, about smaller changes, which don’t break the system and don’t cause confusion.

On a different note:

What’s currently your biggest challenge in your sales process?

Getting meetings with people?

Identifying your best niche?

Having the sales conversations?

The ‘money conversation’?

What makes sales hard or frustrating for you?



Also published on Medium.

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