When “Fixing” A Problem Only Makes It Worse

Most mornings, my young kids hop out of bed and turn on the TV while I’m still asleep. The TV is connected to a small computer with a wireless keyboard and mouse, and the kids select a show from Netflix and sit on the couch, snacking and sharing a blanket as they watch. Today, when I got home from work, my kids informed me that the TV was ‘broken’–and that my oldest child, Johnny, had tried to fix it. My oldest child is seven, and pretty tech-savvy; but I suspected that the TV wasn’t, in fact, ‘broken.’ Instead, I supposed that Leon, my curious 3-year-old, had done some curious three-year-old tinkering. I decided to investigate.

When I turned on the TV, I saw a static, black and white screen; I discovered that the TV had been set to the wrong source, via a button little Leon can’t reach. When I switched to the correct source, there was no sound; I checked the stereo box, which had also been set to the wrong source–using a button Leon wasn’t aware of. Finally, with the source connected and the sound fixed, I tapped the keyboard to wake up the computer…no dice. Alas, the keyboard–something Leon loves to fiddle with–was turned off! I connected it, turned on the computer, and when I connected everything, sound blared through the house. The volume on the stereo had been cranked waaaay up. I couldn’t help but chuckle: the problem had all started with the keyboard, which Leon had switched off, unbeknownst to Johnny. Johnny, trying to “fix” the TV, had changed the TV source, changed the audio source and cranked up the volume, thus unwittingly making the situation worse.

Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve done something similar, in the course of your own ‘troubleshooting’ efforts?

When looking at our new clients’ old websites and materials, we often see evidence of this issue. Sometimes, when trying to make positive changes or ‘fix’ a perceived problem, we put the cart before the horse and start tinkering before we’ve properly diagnosed the situation. When it comes to our well-intentioned clients, the result of such tinkering can be cluttered and confusing navigation links on websites, convoluted copywriting, hodgepodged logos and taglines, and scattershot service offerings. Have you ever worked with a creative or programmer who starts ‘designing’ or ‘troubleshooting’ before they understand the big picture? An understanding of your broader objectives, or the root cause of a problem with your branding or website, is necessary to really move forward with positive changes.

What is the meaning of this?

Frustrated by the problems they see in the world, purpose-driven entrepreneurs love fixing things and solving problems. They’re often action-driven individuals, who are eager to get things going and see results. But it’s important that we take the time to be thoughtful and strategic, even as we work to advance our cause. And when we recruit others to help us work out our glitches and bring our purpose to fruition, it’s important to make sure everyone’s on the same page and sees the situation clearly.

Do Good Design Co. specializes in assembling strong teams to get to the root of our clients’ challenges. Want to keep things running smoother, and bring your purpose to life? Get in touch with us–we’re here to help!


John Natoli and the Do Good Design Co. team