Why is it that we love to over complicate things? Working as a consultant, when I see clients struggling to resolve an issue, the first thing I look to see is whether they understand the issue. Often time’s people get stuck trying to solve symptoms, rather than the root cause. They then become so fixated on a solution that they lose sight that the issue may be minor. All they needed to do was to look at the issue through a different frame of lens.

Case in point, the infamous defect tracking tool dilemma. Early in my consulting career, when I was with Accenture, I faced a big issue on one of my first projects. The client used two defect tracking systems instead of one.  The systems were out of sync which caused confusion and inaccurate reports. The client asked us to write a program that would keep the two defecting systems in sync.

When I first learned of the problem, I asked, couldn’t they just use one defect tracking tool? I was a newbie so I was a bit timid.  Immediately I got shot down by a senior consultant who said, we have to deliver what the client wants!

I was then assigned the dreaded task of creating a batch job, using excel macros, to synchronize the two defect tracking systems. After much hard work, I had working prototype in place. Meanwhile, my consulting firm flew in a high priced senior executive, who specialized in defect tracking tools, to help with the issue. His job was to look at the solution for the batch job and provide any input or recommendations.

What happened next is priceless. The senior executive arrives and the first thing he asks is, why can’t the client just use one defect tracking tool? Um, hello? Didn’t I suggest this when I first heard of the problem? Several meetings later they made the decision. The client would only use one defect tracking tool.

I guess it took a high priced senior consultant for people listen. It turned out the easiest solution was also the best solution

Next time you encounter some swirl around an issue, don’t overlook the obvious. Sometimes the best solutions are also the easiest.

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