"If it ain't broke, don't fix it"

  • Something by John
  • Published on May 24th, 2011 at 5:39p.m.

I'm fairly sure that most people have heard the phrase "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" (or variations of it). If it isn't simple enough to understand, it basically means that you shouldn't change something because it is already working. This is probably the most damaging way of thinking possible.

Humanity has reached the top of the food chain, becoming the most advanced species on the planet in the process. We've innovated in so many ways, in large part thanks to our curious nature, but also because we like making our lives that tiny bit easier. Take the washing machine, for example: 100 years ago you'd have a scrubbing board and mangle, but today we have washing machines, dryers, and electric irons.

Technically speaking, the mangle and scrubbing board weren't broken ideas. They worked well, allowing you the privilege of clean clothes. Why did the washing machine and it's ilk supersede it then? Technological development you say. Sure, but where would that development be if somebody hadn't thought "I can make that better". Somebody had to take an idea which was already working, and fix it.

This thinking applies across just about every aspect of our lives. Philosophy, technology, society, science... the list goes on. If you stand still and fail to innovate (or at least realise that some ideas aren't perfect and have room for improvement), you will disappear into the annals of time, forgotten.

Which is why I really dislike it when somebody tells me "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Nothing's perfect, everything can be improved upon. Even ideas which seem to work well now must change and evolve over time.

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