Have you ever heard someone refer to an activity as “yak shaving?” Also known as “bikeshedding,” this is effectively a way to describe a specific kind of procrastination. For this week’s tip, we’ll explore how a freshly barbered yak relates to your business’ productivity, and how to keep you and your employees on the right track.
What Does Yak Shaving Have to Do With My Business?
Literally? Probably nothing, but as a metaphor, quite a bit. The Yak Shaving example presents a hypothetical scenario depicting the worst kind of procrastination: semi-defensible.
Let’s walk through such a scenario: You need to complete a proposal, but you’re tired and having difficulty concentrating. However, when you go to the break room, you find that there’s no coffee. Uh oh. So, you figure you need to make sure that the company has more… but you’re really tired, so ordinary coffee just isn’t going to cut it. Therefore, you start researching the most potent coffee beans in the world, which just so happen to be grown on a remote island, and can only be harvested by a yak. Great, now you need a yak. Hopping on a plane, you fly to the Himalayas to procure a yak - but wait! This coffee-bean island is located in a very temperate climate, so it would be cruel to bring a shaggy yak there still covered in its thick, insulating fur. You simply have to shave it. Only once you have shaved your yak free of all that oppressive hair, will you be able to bring it to this coffee-bean island so that you can brew a potent enough cup of coffee to finally, finally complete your proposal.
Obviously, this example is ridiculous, but only because it is an overly exaggerated version of the “logic” that many turn to in the attempt to avoid a less-desirable task.
We’ve all been in a position where the prospect of working on a particular task is so unappealing to us in a given moment, that we will do anything we can to avoid it - even if that means prolonging the preparation of this task. However, once we can recognize that we’re approaching a yak with a razor, we can correct this behavior and resume worthwhile, productive work.
How to Identify (and Overcome) Your Hairy Yaks
If you find that you have a propensity for procrastination of this kind, there are ways that you can work on your problems.
The first step is, like so many things, to develop the ability to recognize your tendencies. Consider the tasks that you have lined up for yourself - how many actually need to be completed in order to proceed toward the ultimate goal? While any plan will have a few legitimate problems, seeking out excuses is a sure sign of procrastinating what really needs to be done.
However, this doesn’t entirely discount the value that your particular yak can provide you - after all, to get to the yak-shaving portion of your problem-solving process, you will have to have collected quite a bit of insight. In turn, this means that there’s a fair chance that you know a better way to approach your challenge - which means you have the option to do something that may seem somewhat extreme.
Your Costs Thus Far Are an Investment
By nature, any hairy yak problem will be a time-consuming endeavor - time-consuming to the point that, even when you discover the better answer, it may not seem worth it. After all, you’ve already put so much time into the one approach, why let all that time go to waste?
At the end of the day, the successful completion of your actual goal needs to outweigh any frustration you may feel at your process of completing it. The results are what matter - so, regardless of if you’ve been working on a problem for minutes, hours, or weeks, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board if a better way pops up.
Out of the Box Solutions is in the business of delivering optimized solutions to meet your business’ needs, eliminating any excuse your employees may have to shave a yak. To learn more about what we offer, feel free to explore our website, or call us at 800-750-4OBS (4627).