Pragmatic Problem Solving

Choosing pragmatism over perfectionism can yield simple and practical solutions to problems in business, software, and life in general. Hopefully.

To summarize the paragraphs that follow: I like pragmatism.*

At my consulting company, Zapstar Solutions, I've embedded this philosophy in my tagline: "Pragmatic software solutions for the data problems of today." And it's not just for work... I try to be pragmatic at home too. (And believe me, I took some very pragmatic approaches to building that treehouse this past summer.)

image ChatGPT just invented a bunch of tools that have questionable utility.

Technically, with unlimited resources, time, and money, nearly anything is achievable. However, such boundless scenarios are far from our everyday reality. We operate within constraints, and so we need creativity and a willingness to redefine what constitutes a "complete" solution. With pragmatism, the goal is to come up with a solution that is "good enough".

And hey, a "good enough" solution is not a bad thing! It's a good thing! It's a solution that still helps you and your company. It's a solution that costs far less and gets done far sooner. It's a step in the right direction, and there will always be room for improvement.

Here's an example: Imagine that you've got a new software process that works with some data and generates a summary of that data, which is insightful to a handful of other folks at your company. Maybe it's sales data, and so this is an aggregate of revenue for the last X days. You could build out a brand new website portal that lets people login, browse the data, download reports, etc. But that's a fair amount of work, and what are you actually trying to do? Just get this summary report in the hands of a few key individuals.

Instead, what about just emailing that report out every morning? These people surely have email addresses. And it's easy enough to have your software process send an email with an attachment. No need to worry about building and deploying a new website, and you get the added bonus of not worrying about authentication (these reports are only accessible via the users' email inboxes), the users can easily share these reports when needed (by simply downloading the attachment or forwarding the email), and they have access to all historical reports (by looking at the previous emails they've received). Boom. Lots of time, money, and stress saved. It's not a fancy new portal, but it works – and it might even be better!

When you start to look at problems pragmatically, you can start solving them in ways that will actually get completed -- on time and within budget. (Other consultants may want to sell you that "perfect" solution, but that comes at a much steeper price with not a lot more benefit.) Whether it's in the realm of software development, business process automation, or even personal projects, adopting a pragmatic approach helps overcome the paralysis of perfectionism and paves the way for continuous improvement and success.

I love to talk about this stuff and to solve problems, but writing a blog post is a bit new to me still. Hopefully this was helpful. If you think you might need some pragmatic solutions, don't hesitate to reach out: jon@zapstarsolutions.com. I'd love to hear from you.