Work-a-round (noun) is defined by Webster as: “a method for overcoming a problem or limitation in a program or system”. It is further defined in Wikipedia as: …”a bypass of a recognized problem in a system”. A workaround is typically a temporary fix that implies that a genuine solution to the problem is needed. But workarounds are frequently as creative as true solutions – thus can be difficult to spot.
The Institute for HealthCare Improvement (IHI) recently produced a great video short to teach how to (1) identify workarounds; (2) discuss how workarounds can lead to problems within a system; and (3) how to apply a framework that can convert workarounds into learning loops (PDSAs/small tests of change). IHI Content
A few years ago I had the opportunity to work with Anita Tucker, a professor with the Harvard Business School, to identify and tackle some hospital workarounds. We utilized the IHI methodologies as well as Human-Centered Design (Design Thinking) processes. We published our initial findings here: HBS Workaround PDF
I want to encourage you to look at the problems you are currently faced with – determine if you are tackling the ‘true problem’ or a workaround. Even push yourself when your team is designing the solution, by asking “is your solution a workaround or a ‘true solution’ to the problem”.
Good Luck and Happy Innovating!