At a baptismal celebration earlier today, I had the opportunity to step into one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in San Antonio, Perico’s at 281 and Sonterra. The food, the tea, the service are consistently wonderful and I would venture that I’ve gained a few pounds working my way through their Perico’s Queso. As I sat at the long table in the back room–you know, one of those that’s closed unless you’re attending a party, I happened to look up at the chandelier…and this is what I saw:

If you look closely, you’ll see what ingenious temporary solution is holding the digital projector in place, away from the chandelier’s structure–styrofoam cups.

In your work, how many times have you seen a temporary, ingenious solution become a long-term strategy? In fact, ask yourself, How many times have I put this kind of solution in place because it just works? The problem with these kinds of solutions is that they work well enough for today, for tomorrow, but in time, they are forgotten, becoming a permanent solution that works until it doesn’t anymore.

As a young administrator, even as a specialist, putting these kind of solutions was my forte. I remember when I walked into an organization, put into place an online professional development planner–an online system for tracking professional learning, allowing for folks to sign-up for workshops offered face to face and online, and allowing them to see what they’d done. At the time, it was brilliant and my boss–in fact, 3 different bosses at a regional service center, and two large school districts–were excited about the possibilities.

That was but one example. From there, I moved onto tracking campus technology inventory, building an online system using MySQL and PHP–with the help of talented staff, to be sure–that enable campus technology representatives to track inventory on their campus. The system made it possible for the District to know what technology was at each campus, and facilitated reporting of data in ways that the Fixed Assets and Inventory department had no clue.

Doggone it, I was brilliant. Or so I thought until the solutions started to fail:

  1. The PDP grew TOO successful, and was unable to scale to track ALL professional development in the District. It worked fine when it was just the Technology Department, but failed when the assistant superintendents wanted it to expand.
  2. The Campus Tech Inventory system suffered a few upgrades and quietly died since the upgrades changed the program we’d used.

There have been other examples, ingenious temporary solutions that carried the day but, if you stayed long enough, failed. As I reflect over the course of my career, I’ve become a lot less sympathetic to ingenious temporary solutions. That’s because I’ve seen the long-term effects.

How do you move away from ingenious “temporary” solutions that become permanent?

Technology is always changing.You have to keep moving forward, learning and trying new approaches.

UPDATE: Contributed Ingenious “Temporary” Permanent Solutions


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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