So, this is a very random post. Kind of.
We devote the last 30 minutes of our day every Friday to writing (or preparing to write or thinking about writing or thinking about preparing to write – you get the picture). Unless of course our perfect world is disrupted by work, which happens from time to time (can you believe it?).
As I was preparing to think about what I was going to prepare to write about, I got an email from a client. The first question you may ask is, “Why are you checking your email at 5:15 p.m. on Friday?” To which I would answer, “That’s a good question.” I’m glad I did check my email because this client in particular was having a pretty serious issue. Their website wasn’t doing what it needed to do, which brings us to the finger.
Most of us can point out a problem – that instance when something isn’t working like it should. In all honesty, almost all of us are adept at pointing out flaws in processes that we don’t have the faintest understanding of. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, I don’t know. I do know that identifying a problem (pointing a finger at it) is important. That’s a great first step. But what’s more important is nailing down the cause of the problem and prescribing an appropriate solution.
Hence, the image on this blog.
We love to swing hammers. Because it’s fun. But you also do a lot of damage with a hammer when you’re not exactly sure what you’re supposed to be correcting. That’s why nails are important (and probably why they are so small). Focusing on the nail (the small thing) requires us to get more granular, more specific. We can ask ourselves what is really causing the problem. Then, if we have to use the hammer, we have to be much more precise. Or we run the risk of smashing our thumb (which I have done many times, literally and figuratively), and that hurts. A lot. Beyond that, had we taken the time to be precise, hitting the right nail in the right place (e.g. clearly identifying the problem and figuring our the appropriate solution), we wouldn’t be left with the lingering pain resulting from a smashed thumb (e.g. using ineffective messaging, making a bad business decision, etc.).
That brings us to the file. When I took a look at what was going on with the client’s website, a single file was missing. Somehow it had gotten lost in the migration to our wonderful new server. One file, with about six lines of text, was causing all of these problems. What’s even more important to note, is the file in question is invisible in normal circumstances. Most people wouldn’t know where to look or how to see it.
So, the fix was extremely simple. It took all thirty seconds. But the process of nailing down the culprit took a little longer, but the most importantly, simply pointing the finger didn’t help anyone solve the problem. It was where we had to start, but stopping there yields absolutely zero results.
So in an effort to protect your fingers (which could be your campaign, your business, etc.), you should always seek to nail down specifically what’s causing issues and prescribe the right solution. Sometimes you and your internal team can figure it out. Sometimes you’ll have to bring in experts. But you’ll always have to do a deeper analysis of what’s going on to determine how to move forward.