Don't Reinvent The Wheel, Just Get Yours Rolling Again

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“There is no new thing under the sun” wrote the wise author of Ecclesiastes. The wheel was always present, it just took man catching up with the idea to implement it. So, there is no need to reinvent it, is there? But is your wheel rolling? Is the tire flat? Is there something just “not quite right” in some situation in your organization or your personal life? Worse yet, is there an impending doom looming on your horizon?

We all find ourselves in situations where our best-laid plans did not turn out the way we wanted them to turn out. We work ourselves into a lather wondering how we are going to fix our mess, execute our business plan, pull ourselves out of a sales slump, or some other form of getting our wheel to roll.

One of the best strategies I have discovered throughout my life and career goes against the grain of so many business “gurus”. Their advice is to “think outside the box”. I had a boss once who lived by that mantra. While he was outside the box, it seemed someone would come by and nail the lid on the box. The real solution to the problem was still in the box. Understand that I am not advocating “closed minded thinking” nor am I an enemy of creativity. Quite the contrary. It takes some mighty creative thinking to look at the same set of circumstances over and over again to ultimately discover something new. More times than not, though, the solution to the problem was either overlooked or the problem unforeseen.

Get back in the box. Start the troubleshooting process. In my early twenties, I got a job at the local cable company and for about 8 years I was a service technician. Mind you, I have never considered myself to be technically gifted. My best work has always been with people, not technology. But, it was in this job that I learned the first step in troubleshooting… start with what you know is bad, identify a place where it is good, and narrow down what is in between.

Look for the simple solution. Everything complex consists of many simple parts. It is usually a simple thing that went wrong that led to a very complex problem. This not always the case as it may be that there were several simple processes that went wrong and contributed to a much larger and more complex problem.

The source of a problem can always be found in what I call the 3 Ps. Look into the plan. Was the plan faulty from the get-go? If not, look into the processes to determine if they were inadequate to accomplish the plan. Next, look into the people that implemented the processes that caused ineffective execution of the plan.

When the wheel is not rolling, reinvention isn’t necessary. What is needed is a turnaround. Sometimes what is needed is a mega turnaround. Don’t be afraid to get help. Learn from the experience of others to get your wheel rolling again, whatever your wheel is.

Copyright 2005 Rory Elmore

Rory Elmore is an author, consultant, and speaker with over 25 years in the communications industry. Learn more about his strategies and sign up for the Mega Turnaround newsletter at


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