If It Ain’t Broke

I found the cutest old-man optometrist. He puttered around the room, in cute old man fashion. He had a little cute old man mantra: “if it ain’t broke…”

Him: Are your contacts working okay for you?

Me: Sure, I guess.

Him: Well, if it ain’t broke…

Me: But aren’t you going to check my eyes???

He eventually did. But he must have repeated his mantra three or four more times during our appointment together.

It was while I was waiting for my eyes to dilate that I realized how “if it ain’t broke…” might be the worst phrase for an evaluator to hear. Why wait until things are broken to start fixing them? Waiting until things are broke means enduring a period of decline, a period of broken-ness, and a period of rebuilding to get things back up at the same operating level as previously. That sort of downtime impacts an organization’s productivity, effectiveness, and bottom line. When there are clear patterns and signposts established (especially in the eyecare industry), it would be much more efficient to watch out for those early warning signals and take action, rather than wait until it is broke. This is why evaluators are good at pattern recognition.

Now whenever I hear “if it ain’t broke…,” I cringe. Must be hard to examine my eyes that way.

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