Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Square Peg/Round Hole

Square Peg in a Round Hole
image found at

It is possible to fit a square peg into a round hole.  School leaders do this all the time, especially when trying to implement an idea or program that appears to have a large potential benefit and seemingly low cost.  In other words, the peg appeared round before we started playing with it.

Now that you see the peg is square, there is pressure to make it fit.  To do so, you have a few options.

Option 1:  Hammer the peg until it squeezes into the hole.
Sure, this may get the peg in the hole, but at what cost?  More than likely the peg will still stick out (it will still be obvious that it isn't the best fit), you will have damaged the peg (it will not resemble the nice one you thought you were going to play with), you will have damaged the hole (now, your school is also wounded), and there are still gaps between the idea and the issue.

Option 2:  Drill a bigger hole.
This option implies expanding the criteria for using the peg to a point where it fits into the issue without needing to use brute force (option 1).  However, the hole is bigger because you have permanently altered its appearance and you cannot ever go back, the peg is now in the hole, but the gaps are still obvious and likely larger than before.

Option 3:  If you like the square peg, find a square hole
Ok, you REALLY believe this idea has potential.  Maybe you were just using it for the wrong issue.  Assemble the team and see if an adjustment in placement may help.

Option 4:  Round the peg
Now, you take the peg (program) and permanently change it to fit the hole (issue).  Of course, it will never resemble the square peg you started with and, unless you sand it down well, may have a rough surface and be slightly distorted.  Again, not a perfect fit, but certainly less obvious.

Ultimately, most of us hate to admit we made a mistake or that we may need to abandon what seemed like a good idea, but a bad fit is a bad fit.  Even if the square peg fits into the round hole, you'll need four small semi-circle pieces to fill the gaps.  Now where one solution was sought, you have five ideas trying to "fit the bill."

Somewhere there is probably a better fit (idea, program, etc.) seeking a school just like yours.

Better yet, be innovative, tap into the collective wisdom of your team, and develop your own program (peg) that is custom made for your school.
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