Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Limitations of Extending a Broken Model

Today I deployed a new version of my website - leaner, cleaner, with more focused content, fewer words and fewer gadgets.

As I backed up and removed the old website, something occurred to me regarding the result that had been produced.

The older website, while serving its purpose well for years, had grown organically during that time, extending out in all directions in terms of content, gadgets and intention and as a result, had gotten very unwieldy.

It had lost its purpose!

My website was broken in terms of value to anyone reading it.  Every time I wanted to add content, I duly did so while continuing to live within (and extend) the broken model that it had evolved into, making the problem even worse.

I had fallen into the natural tendency of living within implied constraints, limiting what I could accomplish as a result.

And as I lived within those perceived constraints, I was getting increasingly frustrated with the website, even though no one told me that I had to live within the rules and constraints by extending the broken thing that it was.

I was either taking the easy way out or assuming that I had to remain within the existing model.  It wasn’t until the pain of living with the old model became great enough that I decided that I needed to create a new model instead of trying to improve a dying one.

This is often the case in Life, both personally and professionally.

Many times we feel constrained by having to comply with the model and rules that have been defined for us (or that we have defined for ourselves), whether it is an existing software architecture as in my case or in our lives in general.

When we believe that we can only improve a result while still remaining within the rules and constraints of the existing model, we are perhaps denying ourselves a much more significant, positive result in our lives.

Now I know there are times when we simply can’t toss out the existing model that we have, build a brand new one and start all over.

But I’m willing to bet that the opportunities to do so are probably more readily available than most of us are willing to admit.

And by not admitting this, we are perhaps limiting ourselves to not living up to our potential or producing the result we are capable of …. to not realizing our purpose.

Care to take that wager?

In service and servanthood,



  1. Harry, when I read this, I'm reminded of how living systems go through a series of crises as they grow, reach the limit of the way they've organized themselves, and then, through crisis, reorganize into a new order. Sounds like you reached your crisis and created the new website.

    Maybe the best we can do is be aware so that it's not necessary to wait quite as long, before realizing the old system is no longer functioning and reorganizing. Is this what you are suggesting?

  2. Hey Randall,

    Your closing paragraph summed it up perfectly! :-)

    Create a great day!