Finding a balance between being pragmatic, when “it’ll do” is actually “good enough”; and being short-sightedly miserly, when “good enough” is barely adequate and a disaster is waiting around the corner.

I bought a drill. One that also drives screws.

For years I had used a manual screwdriver. One that would tear chunks of skin from my palm. But I have continually resisted getting a screw-driving drill. For all manner of reasons: I won’t really use it that often. I don’t need to spend the money. What I have will do for the moment… Problem was, I kept on needing a drill/screwdriver for various things, I kept putting fun projects off, I kept tearing skin off my palm.

It was really good having the real deal. Why did I put it off for so long? What was I thinking – depriving myself of all the possibilities, and having intact hands? Does this sound familiar to you?

Many businesses operate on “it’ll do” and “that’s good enough”. Often, this is compounded by the fact that the decision maker (should I buy a drill or not) is quite removed from the reality of the people doing the work (ouch my hand hurts).

Think of the boss who is a little bit afraid of computers. He only uses one when he has to, and that may be a couple of times a month. He has set up a system where his people do the stuff he does not want to do (which is fair enough).

The problem arises when his staff needed new computers. What they have is no longer sufficient. They are feeling the pain. So they go to the boss to ask for upgrades.

But he looks around the office, and sees all these computers switched on and buzzing away, and thinks: my computer is the same as all these others and I have had no problems with it. The hard drive is practically empty. And it still looks brand new! I don’t think we need to spend the money. What we have seem to be good enough. It is all working after all. (This is an anecdote adapted from an example drawn by Stilgherrian many moons ago.)

Now he is making the best judgement possible from his point of view. What he has failed to realised is that there is a significant difference in how he himself feels about and uses computers, and how his staff (indeed his business) has become dependant on computers.

Are you making do with something in your business? What could it be costing you?