Contextually Correct

It’s a debate as old as time – should a toilet roll be over or under? I’ve always opted for over, while my wife is a proponent of under. But who’s right?

Interestingly, there’s two ways to answer this – contextually and technically.

On a technical basis, the original toilet roll patent clearly shows that the toilet paper is meant to be hung over the top and pulled towards you.

Patent Shows Right Way to Hang Toilet Paper

However, this is where context and function matters. The over-pull setup is great for easy access as gravity is working in your favour towards an ‘endless pull’. But, what if your house is full of cats or young children? – that ability to ‘endlessly unravel the entire roll’ is now suddenly a bane in your side. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s walked into my bathroom only to find an entire roll unravelled on the floor…)

This is where the under-pull setup comes into its own. The endless pull is disabled, and accidental unravellings are heavily reduced. However, this unravel-resistance comes at the expense of easy access.

So who’s right?

Neither. Each solution is for a different problem.

Or put another way:

Context matters more than ‘technically correct’ best practice.

It’s a lesson that most experienced practitioners learn over time. It’s a lesson that truly successful PMOs and other internal governance functions already know. And it’s a lesson that change leaders should embed into their core.

The art of leading, supporting and driving change, transformation and delivery is in knowing how to quickly and simply troubleshoot, analyse and solve for context.

Best practice is just a suggestion. Because best practice is standardised, it’s often selected as a starting point for up and coming leaders, managers, etc. After all, they don’t know what they don’t know. But, it comes at the cost of context-awareness.

So, here’s something for you to ponder this week:

How can you empower yourself and your staff to proactively target and adapt to context, rather than following a ‘do this, then that’ text book?

And A Quick Note: The True Cost

There’s an artificial safety that comes with ‘copy and pasting best practice’. While no one will criticise you for it, what’s the true cost to your effectiveness?