Thought Starters

How does Mr. Fix It cloud our crystal ball and affect our ability to see the future?

Fair warning! This post is about ME!

Take that Bill.

So, as I am running around the internet getting caught up with the blogs I read on a regular basis I came across a few posts that got me thinking about how much time I spend getting stuff done in the moment and how little time I spend planning and getting ahead of my work. I go to thinking about how little I allow myself time to think strategically about answers and solutions to the problems I am presented.

Yep, I said it! Thinking strategically. Me.

Last month I finished a book called Mindset which was featured on our Read This Stuff! page. Mindset opened my eyes about how I think, learn and assimilate information. That book coupled with the book The Accidental Creative, coincidentally this month’s pick, which I am just finishing up has left me thinking about how I get things done.

So, the question I am left asking myself is “Do you have a Mr. Fix It approach to work?” Am I running around making sure I’m “just in time” to get it done? Whatever IT might be.

You have to admit that it’s easy to get caught in that proverbial trap, huh?

The Mr. Fix It trap.

So, how did I get to this topic surfing the blogosphere?

Judy Dunn over at Cat’s Eye Writer was discussing some habits for creative blogging and the comment that struck me there was “It’s ok to be a copycat because nobody can say it quite like you can.”

And, so many people in the blogosphere are talking about Jonah Lehrer’s book Imagine which discusses creativity and the creative process. This short video gives you a sense of what Jonah thinks about solving creative problems. He said one thing in the video (about 0m:52s in) that I need to dig into much, much deeper.

To paraphrase, “It’s only after we stop searching that the answer might arrive.”

And, last but not least Seth Godin wrote a short piece and put the concept of just in time solutions so eloquently that I probably don’t need to elaborate. The analogy is very poignant and clear.

So, I am going to “borrow” Seth’s idea, concoct my own analogy using some of the ideas I learned from his post, The Accidental Creative, inspiration from Jonah’s video and mix it all up into a cocktail of my very own.

Let’s hope you like it. 

Do we live in a Mr Fix It world?

What does that mean to you? Well, I look at it like there are always a pile of tasks that we have to achieve and we seem to have less and less time to get them done. I know that last week I was talking about delegation which plays into the ideas here. Even when delegating work we need to focus on sharing our knowledge, making sure your team has the tools they need, check in to see how it’s going and ensure you remain accountable for the solutions. This all takes valuable time.

So, what happens with the rest of your time?

You certainly have to get some things done as well. The idea behind delegation is to free up time for you to think strategically about the things that you need to drive your work forward so why do we still find ourselves in a Mr Fix It kind of world? Is it because that’s what we propagate? I certainly find value in getting it done, putting the check mark in the box, working that list down and filling the day with small accomplishments.

Is that the wrong idea?

No, but if that’s what we ALL do then we are only ever going to get really good at fixing the leaks instead of finding out why the leaks actually occurred. It limits us from thinking about ways to design better pipes, better systems, better methods or better solutions that may prevent the leaks in the future or in the first place.

Can Mr Fix It turn himself into a strategic thinker?

Sure he can if he’s diligent, uncompromising, a great salesman and has the ability to convince not only himself but the organization where he works to see the value of a holistic viewpoint to the future. Sure there are always going to be the need for Mr. Fix It tasks and we all need some of those to keep the wheels greased but wouldn’t we all be better off if more and more of us saw another more strategic way to problem solving?

The stop and think mentality.

Ah, what a luxury these days but in some ways an essential idea to longevity and innovation.

Here’s an example of how it might work.

I spoke to a team today that I rarely have a moment with. These guys come from the same industry and are part of a silo team delivering isolated services to our collective client, a major player in the Canadian Financial Sector. We are all headed in generally the same direction and we have been forcibly conjoined to deliver a single product for our client.

We work in parallel and have been doing so for some time.

We are all fixing the problem that our client has but at no time have we banded together to consolidate our knowledge and experience to look at a collaborative team based solution. We have been going on like this for quite some time. Today, after a particularly unproductive meeting I asked my partner firms if they would be interested in discussing the options around a joint effort to eliminate the clutter, duplication and excess effort to bring our client a unified approach to the proposed business solution.

I was way outside of the proverbial box.

I did get some sideways glances but I went there anyway. The proposed solution will build a better mousetrap, save the client time and money and unify an otherwise fragmented consultant team. Heck, we do this every day in our world in a similar context. It’s not rocket science and we will make it work.

I am determined because I can see the future……

……and the benefits for everyone.

Thank you Seth Godin for pointing out that we may not want to propagate the reward of first aid and that it is prudent to look beyond the emergency room mentality.

Thank you Judy Dunn for telling me it’s ok to borrow the idea from Seth.

Thank you Jonah Lehrer. I will buy your book but also for suggesting that if we stop for a minute we may see the answer we’ve been looking for.

And thank you Todd Henry for you excellent adventure in The Accidental Creative. You have given me a ton of stuff to think about but simply by taking the time to consider the ideas and letting myself flow you have opened my eyes to a ton of new possibilities.

No more Mr Fix It here……


What are the ways you “fix it” to allow yourself time to think strategically?


About rdopping

interior design guy who loves other stuff; social media, photography, film, food and anything that is good for the growth of the self


2 thoughts on “How does Mr. Fix It cloud our crystal ball and affect our ability to see the future?

  1. Brilliant and so true, because once you put your take on it no matter how much you copied or emulated, it becomes exclusively yours.

    There are 3 people I know better than anyone; me, myself and I. Why wouldn’t I want to write/talk about them?….:).

    I do a much better job of planning and strategic thinking in my day job. Social is an afterthought because I can do that by just showing up. However, it has penalized me at times for taking that approach, so maybe one of these days I will be more strategic with the social as well. Hmmmm……..

    Posted by billdorman | May 29, 2012, 10:49
  2. Thanks Bill. I have absolutely no doubt that you are Mr. Strategy in your business. How could you not be? As an afterthought you foray into social has certainly brought you what you desired I am sure. Social. You GOT that. I need to spend a bit more time focussing on the strategic (hence the post) on both the business side and the social side. For some reason I need a kick in the ass occasionally to see the light but that’s what’s great about this venue.

    I appreciate you stopping by with your busy schedule and for your commentary. Now go russle up you million. I actually thought you were going to go there with some insurance advice….;-)

    Posted by rdopping | May 29, 2012, 20:35

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