Just Do It Right The First Time Ross | November 18th, 2008

Nike achieved unprecedented heights with it’s “Just Do It” campaign several decades ago. “Just Do It” has been one of the most memorable marketing slogans of all time.

We can all benefit from a variation on that tagline: Just Do It Right The First Time.

Let’s face it – while there are plenty of exceptions, we often try to take shortcuts in many of the things that we do. If we’re writing code, we’ll sometimes look for the fastest way to solve the problem, not the best way. If we’re fixing a bug, we’ll often be content with fixing the bug for a customer without finding the root cause for everyone else. If we’re creating a design, we’ll settle for something that might get the job done, rather than something we’re proud of. If we’re creating a wireframe, we’ll settle for one that looks OK to the client, rather than one that represents exceptional functional design. We are content with delivering customer service, not world class customer service. We tell clients what they want to hear, not what we as professionals believe they SHOULD hear. We compromise every day. We go through the motions. We suffer through our jobs. We settle for being average.

But we often reach a point when we recognize that band-aid solutions can no longer work, when we appreciate that we should have just done it right the first time.

For me, this epiphany came this past Sunday. I bought a new Blue-Ray DVD Player (Panasonic DB55) for my home theater. I thought it would take me 30 minutes to install the new player in my cabinet. But when I opened the cabinet, I remembered that every time I’ve replaced equipment in my theater, I’ve ignored making sure that wiring was properly secured and I also remembered that when I installed my equipment rack two years ago, I never spent time planning for upgrades. And so when I looked at it on Sunday, it was an utter mess and I simply could not easily install the DVD player – the rack would not roll out of the cabinet, would not turn, and was ultimately useless. With every piece of equipment that I installed over the past two years, I applied “band aid” fixes by figuring out ways to get the wiring in there without bothering with the rack itself. On Sunday, I had finally had it. I realized that I compromised one two many times. I realized that I would continue to be frustrated every single time I open my cabinet, and that unless I start over – from scratch – I would not be happy. And so I ripped apart every piece of electronic equipment in my theater and every removable cable, as you’ll see in the photo below.

It will take me a week to rebuild my theater. I know that had I done it right the first time, I could have saved myself lots of aggravation, and I would now be watching a Blue Ray movie (Iron Man) instead of writing about it. Lesson learned.

Have you made choices to apply “band aid” fixes rather than solve problems right the first time? Have you done something important without really putting your heart into it? Are you settling for average? Make a decision today to just do it right the first time. It’s not too late.

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  • ArtbyAudree

    Ross, I get what you are trying to say, and it makes a lot of sense… but all I can think about is what a SWEET TV you have. (I like the art, too.)

    Audree

  • ryangraves

    I totally agree with this sentiment. I have an 87 year old friend who used to work as a lawyer in Milwaukee. He told me a story about how his boss would reward people not for long hours and also not for the fastest job, but for the persona who did a great job the first time!

    “Haste makes waste”, is something that I try and keep in mind through the work day. Although doing quality work that may take longer seems less productive at first, the time you save by not having to re-do work will be huge!

    Great post.

  • ArtbyAudree

    … and just as carpenters say, “Measure twice, cut once.”

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