Should you Reinvent the Wheel?

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Should you reinvent the wheel?

I recently had a meeting with someone who was going to take a project I’d started and push it forward. They were asking probing questions about the project, and after a while, I realized the direction that these questions were going-- they were trying to reinvent a solution I had already developed for this project. I had already thought it through and gave them a wonderful (yes, I am biased) solution. But here they were, asking probing questions trying to find a solution to a problem I had already solved.

Everything in me felt like saying “Hey, let's not waste time reinventing the wheel. I already worked this through and the solution I gave you should do just fine. Let's move on."

However, I bit my tongue.

I engaged in this conversation, still arguing, because as smart as I am, I knew my idea was the best possible solution. I thought I would indulge their questions until they realized just how brilliant the solution I had already given them was.

But then, after a number of probing questions, some weaknesses and cracks began to appear in my “perfect” solution. Soon we’d hammered out some modifications to my plans.

The end result is a much better solution because we challenged what I thought was the best possible plan.

Think about this: there I was, I was in charge-- they were working for me and none of us (particularly ’A’ type personalities) like wasting time reinventing the wheel we already invented. My inclination was to cut off the conversation and just tell them the direction we should go.

How many times have leaders wanted people who work for them to be leaders themselves, to be innovators and think for themselves but the reality is we squelch that same ability which we crave. We cut them off because WE KNOW BETTER and “let's just do it my way.”

After all, we don’t have time to reinvent the wheel…Or do we?

square wheel on tricycle, reinvent the wheel

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, because we have good schools. We don’t have great businesses, because we have a lot of good ones. Few people live great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.” - Jim Collins:
Making the leap from Good to great

There comes a time when we have to take the leap from the "good" that we have and accept the risk to obtain the "great" that could be.

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