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April 12, 2021

“If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” Is a Terrible Lie

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“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a deeply engrained axiom in our culture. But is it true? If something is working, even working super well, does it make sense to keep on keeping on?

I used to believe honestly that change for the sake of change is a bad idea. After all, what is the point of just switching things up if there is nothing wrong with the status quo? But life isn’t really like that. 

For one, humans thrive on novelty. Our brain activity spikes, and we are more likely to remember the novel experience. If you think about experiences and memories that stick out in the last few years, chances are there was some unique, novel component. Brain hack alert; even slightly familiar information is retained at a higher rate when coupled with new information. 

For two, companies like Google and Facebook reward change in their algorithms. Creating quality new content causes Google to give your website a higher ranking and consider it more authoritative. Facebook shows new content in the timeline to your friends and followers. You need to change to survive. 

Personal Growth Comes with Change

Intrinsically we know this is true on a personal level. When you have cultivated a new skill, hobby, or passion, your life improves. It is indeed quite difficult to progress in your career without incorporating new, fresh ideas and bringing them to life. My guess is that your most vital relationships have all had periods of significant change, leading to new commitment and love. 

Change is a chance to make things better.

I am finishing this post sitting on the kitchen floor. I usually sit on the couch before the kids are up and write, but today I just needed a new physical position and place for my body to jump-start my thinking – though it doesn’t hurt that the radiator I am leaning on is nice and warm!

Especially in business, change feels scary but is necessary.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” tends to be more of an infection at the business level. Why should we change when what has brought us this far is still working? 

We have seen it repeatedly; businesses sit on their hands, afraid to break the successful formula. But what if the breaking of the status quo is needed to catalyze the next stage of growth? Sometimes change just for the sake of change creates movement that produces positive results. You have to keep the car running. Keep moving forward, even if nothing needs to be fixed.

Even lateral changes can make a difference. Let’s drop the idea that there is no point to something new if it isn’t a magnitude of order better than what it replaced. Don’t get me wrong, take moments of change to make the object of the change the best it can be – but don’t let the drive for better stop the change altogether. 

Websites as an Example

The best place to demonstrate this is through websites. If your website is well done and generating the leads and business you want, why would you change it? I’d argue that after 2-4 years, refreshing a website is a must – even if the change is lateral. The novelty of the new will help. 

Customers want to feel the motion in your business. They will not be satisfied with “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

Just like “fail early, fail often,” let’s replace “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” with “if it ain’t broke, change it for the better anyway,” then create a personal and business culture of change.

Think about your life, and when change catalyzed something new, what made it compelling to you? How can you repeat that in your personal life, business, or career?

More to explore

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March 29th
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