prevent a problem or have to fix it

The pace of doing production in the local church can be crazy fast. Every week, a new service needs to be planned and executed. It is relentless. Sometimes this pace catches up with us in bad ways. If we are running so fast that we don’t have time to think things through, we can start burning people out or spending too much money on an idea.

problemsI’ve been listening to the book by Ed Catmull from Pixar called “Creativity, Inc.”. It is a must read for anyone involved in creating and executing services. I think we could all agree that Pixar has figured out how to create some pretty amazing movies, so I’m ready to agree with anything Mr. Catmull has to say about how they do it.

Here’s a great quote from the book that applies to what we do every week:

“The cost of preventing problems is cheaper than the cost of fixing problems.”

The cost can be measured in time, people or money. Are we running so fast that we don’t have time to think through potential problems? Are we sacrificing time to prevent problems that we end up having to fix them instead.

When I think about fixing a problem that we could have solved before hand, there are only so many times that you can do that to people before you start burning them out. There are only so many times you can do that before you run out of money. There are only so many times you can do that before you have no more time left.

There will always be a tension between preventing problems and fixing problems. We will never know every problem that needs to be prevented until it is upon us. Hopefully over time we can learn from these experiences and behave differently next time.

For me, the balance should land on the side of people. If we burn people out, pretty soon we won’t have anyone left to execute the ideas. On the other hand, if we have to prevent every problem, we will never get anything done.


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