Home > Communications, Process Simplification, Simplicity > ‘Bear Shaving’ falls short of mark as tagline

‘Bear Shaving’ falls short of mark as tagline

I have an analogy in search of a tagline.

When you’re in charge of simplifying processes, you need to be sure you’re getting to the root cause of a problem, rather than just addressing the symptoms of that problem.  But what’s the phrase to describe symptom management (bad) vs. root-problem management (good) in a very visual way?

Let me give you an example.  Your roof is leaking.  Symptom management is buying buckets.  Patching the roof gets to the root cause of the leak.

Symptom management is reactionary, a band-aid that often works temporarily when you have 10 other things on your To-Do list.  Seth Godin, one of the world’s pre-eminent bloggers, has coined the phrase “bear shaving” to describe this phenomenon.  He cites a Japanese PSA showing a girl shaving a bear so it could deal with global warming.

I think Seth missed the boat on this one.  Bear Shaving seems obscure, even when you understand the reference.  Taglines need to be self-explanatory.  This one isn’t.

Another Godin example of bear shaving: “Putting a sophisticated queue management system into the Department of Motor Vehicles so that people waiting in line feel like it’s less of a mob. The productive approach would be to redefine what actually happens in that building so the line itself disappears.”

I could use your help on this, since this is one of the core competencies that define Bulldog Simplicity.  I can use the roof-repair analogy and it works, but a short, pithy phrase would be better.

Any thoughts?

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  1. Jeff Oshinskie
    08/28/2009 at 3:56 pm

    So, you’re looking for something like “paving (or re-paving) the cow path” or “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”, I think. I’ll try to solicit some help and refer some folks to your blog along the way.

    By the way, I note with utter clarity your choice of color scheme for the blog. Well chosen.

  2. Beth Marshall
    08/29/2009 at 10:53 pm

    Here’s the tagline that sprang to mind for me: “Close the barn door”. I remember the first time I used this at work when we had an urgent problem. When I was talking to my team about how we would address it, I said, first we have to close the barn door, then we can work on herding what got out. I got quizzical looks, but then they got it. Figure out the root cause before you go chasing all over the place to merely fix the effects.

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