The Pain-in-the-Ass Quotient Explained

The Pain-in-the-Ass Quotient Explained

To fix it, well that’s a pain. Sure, it doesn’t work the way it should right now, and that’s a pain, but it works a little and that seems less of a pain than having to fix it and who says the fix will be any better? Ever wander through that rationalization? When fixing it is clearly what you probably should do but it’s expensive, or time consuming, or means downtime or any other number of factors so you put up with a small problem over and over to avoid dealing with a big one. This is what leading behavioral psychologists call the PIA Quotient. Well, maybe leading consultants call it that, okay maybe I’m the only one who calls it that.

We make these calls all over our lives. Some people have no stomach for anything out of perfect order and will immediately repair, replace or reconsider a problem. Others have little need for perfection and extra work so if it works, sort of, then leave it alone. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle depending on what the pain is, how big it is, and how important we view the end results to our lives. My inspiration to turn this business/life dynamic into a math equation came from my own behavior observation:

In my home office I have an overhead light with a pull switch. (Since the house was built in 1903 there weren’t a lot of wall switches around and putting in new house wiring for one light was beyond the PIA Quotient’s calculation, and mine.) One morning I gave the light a pull and snap the cord comes out. I’ve dealt with fixing pull switches and it’s, well a pain you-know-where. Dutifully, I went to the home goods store and bought another light, not a very expensive item. I was there anyway, so that lead to the next decision.

Turns out that by taking off the fixture cover I can reach up with my handy Claw Picker and I can give a little turn to the light bulbs and voila, let there be light–or light off. To fix it I’ve got to go get a ladder, figure out which circuit in the basement to shut off, pull the old unit out of the ceiling. Then, wire in and install the new one…up and down the ladder, up and down to the basement, what a pain. So the new light sits nicely in the box on a shelf patiently awaiting the correct math to make the change.

So do the math…

Here’s the math. To reach up and screw/unscrew a light bulb (yes it only takes one lazy consultant with a pole grabber) the inconvenience factor seems minimal, give that a number. The open fixture isn’t very pretty but I’m the only one in my home office and I don’t generally look up! Give that a number. The inconvenience for the changeover is significant and even though there is a payoff over time by not having to repeat the mild inconvenience or minor eye sore I’m yet to find the necessity in changing it. Somewhere in there is a formula of Difficulty x Sacrifice ÷ Benefit = What to do. Sucking in practical math I keep that theoretical and figure I know the answer in my head.

If my light set off any eureka bulbs it was realizing how many clients face the same dilemma in any number of areas. There’s the employee who’s been around a while and isn’t very good but they get some things right and hiring and training a replacement? High PIA Quotient! Getting a new outsource Payroll (or any) service to replace the one that hasn’t performed to your liking? Well, you’ve got to find a new one, create a transition and not be guaranteed the next one will be any better. The process that gets done despite regular agony…it’s the devil you know versus the devil you fear, which do you choose.

There are usually factors that can justify delaying a fix or not doing it. I remember the late Harry Quadracci, founder of Quad Graphics, summarizing an automation idea. We were in the Dominican Republic and toured an enormous cigar making facility. After seeing the hundreds of employees performing repeated manual tasks and walking components all over the factory Harry said, “I could come in here with robots and automation speed up the process and eliminate 90% of the people…and lose lots of money!”

The next time you look at a tool, a process, a program or a person and think, “We should do better.” The answer is sure, you probably can. Determining if the change pain is worth the change benefit will be your PIA Quotient and everyone’s number is different. In other words, if you don’t want to do it then use math to explain why not, who can argue with that?!

©2021 MyEureka Solutions LLC. For help developing your PRODUCTIVITY, strategy or other BUSINESS THERAPY insights follow or contact me on LinkedIn or Twitter @TomFoxTrainer, or check out My current book: Business Therapy: Ideas and Inspirations To Help Build Sales, Leadership, Management, and Personal Performance is available on Amazon.

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