Don’t Accept False Choices

When I was growing up in manufacturing a primary point of friction between leadership and production workers was “quality or quantity.” Leaders did not understand what was so irrational about their expectation; the two should not be mutually exclusive. The production workers, however, who worked with existing processes, couldn’t see why management would expect such a thing when their day-to-day experience was that a choice had to be made.

Yet today, I see comments on LinkedIn about the requirement to choose two of the triumvirate of cheap, fast, and good. This is another false distinction, just as was quality and quantity.

In new product development we are told that we must choose between budget, timing, and good design.

This is another false choice that exists because we haven’t figured out how to meet budget and schedule while creating excellent design. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just like quantity and quality were never mutually exclusive.

Solutions rest not on demanding a more likeable schedule and budget or reducing product expectations, but on answering the question: “what is preventing us from accomplishing all 3?”

Why do people still accept false choices? Because it’s easier to think “woe is us” than to dig deep to determine what’s making us believe the choice cannot be overcome.

Let’s get over that today. That doesn’t require that we know exactly how to eliminate a perceived contradiction, but that we recognize what it is and that we commit to figuring out how to eliminate it.

“Because it’s hard” is no reason to be stuck tomorrow with today’s challenges.

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