My washing machine has died on me. It's only when these things failed that we realize how much use we get out of them. I know, I know, it's cliché. Try to tell that to my growing mountain of laundry…

Luckily, I had purchased an extended warranty plan, so fixing the thing won't cost me money. So after calling the repair company, waiting two days for a callback, then waiting another day for the technician to show up, I am hoping he will be able to fix my ailing washing machine in one visit.

How naive of me.

It's now been 2 weeks, 2 visits from technicians, and a couple visits to the laundromat. I still don't have a working washing machine. There's always a new part that needs to be replaced.

Nobody will be surprised that I am getting impatient here. I keep wondering why the technician didn't thoroughly inspect my washing machine and made sure he found all the broken parts.

The reason is simple: the shorter the service call is, the more service calls the technician can make in a day.  The more service call he makes, the more productive he looks. At least on paper. That's the short-sighted way of looking at productivity. In my case, if the tech had spend 45 minutes looking at my washing machine instead of ten, in the end it would have saved a lot of time and at least a couple visits from the technician.

Taking the short way is rarely better

Because we want to feel that we accomplished something and we want to fix things, we'll stop looking at the first sign or a solvable problem, and fix that.  The good feeling of having fixed the problem blinds us to the fact we may have fixed the symptom of the problem, and not the actual cause.

In project management, like washing machine repair, it pays to understand the problem before going in a fixing frenzy.  Fixing it right the first time pays.