The Shortcut Boomerang

I love shortcuts. Not only keyboard shortcuts but also those in real life: When there is the opportunity to solve a problem quicker and more easily by taking a different path. Such a shortcut might be a new technique that you discovered or a new tool that makes your life easier. Such a shortcut might be possible through automation or a clever hack. And sometimes, such a shortcut might be that you do things a bit differently than they have been done before, for example by leaving out the unnecessary stuff.

Beware of pseudo-shortcuts, though. Pseudo-shortcuts are shortcuts that might seem like a quick solution for the pressing problem at hand, but in reality, they are more of a shoddy trick. Cutting back on research and user testing, for instance. Or not telling a client about a seemingly tiny detail you decided to leave out. Or promising a new hire great opportunities for personal development and growth, when in reality you already know that they might end up doing the same boring tasks for months on end. Pseudo-shortcuts like these usually come back at you with a vengeance, just like a boomerang. Instead of saving money on research and testing, you end up designing and developing the wrong product. Instead of saving some time and getting clearance, your client asks about the tiny detail – because it somehow mattered to them – and gets upset. Instead of having a passionate, happy team member, you will very soon have to invest money again into finding a new employee.

So whenever something feels like a shortcut, watch out. Ask yourself: Is this a real, valuable improvement and therefore a valid shortcut? Then fine, go on. Or is it a pseudo-shortcut that will most likely backfire? Then just don’t do it. Answer this question honestly and it will certainly improve the quality and consistency of everything you do.


This is the ninth post of my 100 days of writing series. You can find a list of all posts here.


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