Fram oil filters used to have a commercial that said, you an pay me now, or you can pay me later. This was in reference to car repairs. If you didn’t spend the money on maintenance, then often you would spend a lot more money on fixing a problem. Funny thing, I found this true to be of a lot of things. You name it, from software development to home improvement, to cutting corners on almost anything you do.
I wish I could go on a rant about a specific story about this, but I have way too many. I have failed at this many of times, before I finally realized that I needed to start making better decisions. But because this is a blog where I just ramble on, here is one story. When I bought my house, I spent the money and bought a great over. Its still going strong after 20 years, but the fridge and dishwasher we didn’t spend the money. Both have been replaced. The oven cost me a few hundred to fix, but even the repair guy said, keep this, its a great oven and they don’t make them like that anymore. I wish I used the same judgement on the other appliances.
Now often I do think about the Fram expression in making decisions. I ask stuff like what does this short term decision do for me, and what is the cost of the repair later. You often can’t afford the best of the best, but the question is where do you want to maximize your resources. In business, often we talk about tactical versus strategic, but what that usually means, what is the cheapest way out of this, versus doing it “right.” I wish I could say 100% of the time we do it right, as that isn’t feasible. But we do understand the consequences of our decisions, and those decisions are made with the Fram expression in mind.
What does bother me, is if someone is making the decision and putting a band air on a larger problem that wont surface till they are gone. This happens a lot, where the choices aren’t made based on the analysis, and the person making the decision doesn’t document what he or she knows will happen long term. And often when the shit hits the fa, the shit hits the fan. If you are going to make a decision to be tactical, make sure it is known, and then figure out how to budget later to get the strategic done. Noting it is possible the strategic could be to get rid of whatever you patched later, just have a plan. And as always, you can pay me now, or you can pay me later.