‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ and the corollary, ‘if it is broken, fix it’ are enshrined in folk law as complementary pieces of good advice. This good advice is often expressed in business meetings.


Yet there’s also a case for the view that, ‘if it’s broken, don’t fix it’.


After all, every product and service has a lifecycle. By the time this product or service is ‘mainstream’ and ‘commonplace’ within a larger market enjoying the doubtful benefits of increased competition and keener pricing models, it may not be worth devoting resources to fixing it. Moreover, it may not be fixable.


Even if it can be fixed, there may be good reasons for not fixing it. For one thing, you may be able to do something more productive and profitable with the same time and resources. So, before rushing to fix something that appears to be broken – or breaking – you need to decide:

  • Are you merely postponing the inevitable?
  • Is this something whose lifecycle is coming to an end naturally?
  • What other activities will be deprived of money, time and attention in order to effect the ‘fix’?


If at all possible, you should try not to let your decision be clouded by the investment you’ve already made in the product or service. The sound business decision is to weigh project costs against the (likely) return on the investment without worrying about the amount of money you’re invested in the product or service over previous years.


Comment: We’re seeing these decisions having to be made in the e-learning world. ‘Traditional’ e-learning ‘1.0’ and even ‘2.0’ materials are showing signs of their age and are being subsumed into the general market for ‘learning products’ – rather than being a separate market, as they were in the days before e-learning became accepted as just another aspect of the learning and development toolset. In achieving this, of course, learning technologists have scored a notable – but double-edged – victory.


Learning technologies, of course, are continuing to move on. The leading edge – once focused on introducing increasing interaction into e-learning materials and emulating the video games culture via ‘serious games’ – is now focusing on mobile learning materials, technologies and standards. So, what price is ‘old fashioned e-learning’? Moreover, should e-learning developers be devoting scarce resources to attempting to ‘fix it’ in order to sell more of it in a corporate learning world that is increasingly obsessed with learning on the move?


As they say, we live in interesting times.