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  • Lucas Hyslop

Reinventing the Wheel?

Often you will hear a leader or a manager tell an employee not to reinvent the wheel when completing a project or task. They often have good intentions and simply mean that they don't want the employee to spend too much time completing the task. But what many leaders don't realize is the precedent they set when delegating a task with these instructions.


Reinventing the wheel allows the employee to identify the flaws and mistakes made within the previous design. To continue the analogy if you don't know who made the wheel, how they made it, and what their intentions were you should always be reinventing the wheel. If you are a leader or follower, reinventing the wheel allows you to become intimately aware of all facets of the project. Complete awareness allows you to better respond and adjust when problems inevitably occur.


Redesigning a previously used project or model forces the individual to think about the issues that arose previously and implement measures that prevent them from reoccurring. It also allows for creativity in design, new ideas have a have a hard time growing when someone is just mimicking previous models. It can also be difficult to correct problems within a system or model if you are unaware of its origin or design. You might argue if it's not broke don't fix it, while that might be true for some industries, healthcare is an industry that is constantly evolving and changing. It might be the right design for last year or last week but is it the right idea for today, maybe not.


At times there can be a more sinister aspect to this statement, less reputable leaders will use it as crutch when they failed to put effort into something that should have required their attention and focus. Sometimes this isn't intentional people are prone to falling in habits and being unaware they are even stuck. Additionally they might want to ensure that the employee remains ignorant of problems within the system that the leader is already aware of. Sometimes not reinventing the wheel is okay, but avoid using it as a fallback statement for lack of effort or using it to stifle creativity and innovation.

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