Don’t Fix Things; Build Pipelines


I think one of the most powerful ideas in business—or any kind of organization really—is the distinction between fixing things vs. building pipelines.

I used to think about fixing things. You work a company. You see a problem. You talk to the right people, make the correction, and you move on.

Maybe you will stop that thing from happening once or twice, if that person is the one doing it, but if you haven’t changed the permanent process for how it gets done, you haven’t actually fixed anything.

So basically, everything that gets done can be thought of as a pipeline. Water goes in one side, lots of things happen to it along the way, and it comes out the other side.

If you want to change what comes out, you need to fully understand the entire pipeline and change the components that affect that outcome.

And not just change them, but document those changes (or start the documentation if it didn’t exist before), and then communicate the change. Finally, you have to make it very clear how changes to the process are handled.

Who submits a change? When and where is it discussed? How is it approved? How is it actually changed? And how is that communicated?

Once this is in place you now have a pipeline for that thing getting done. Maybe that’s a security assessment for new projects. Or maybe it’s a review of a vendor to see if they can work with the business.

It’s a permanent, documented, and communicated process with visible components that people can understand and know how to modify.

Don’t fix mistakes. Update pipelines.


  • Pipeline thinking is a proactive approach to problem-solving that focuses on building systems rather than fixing individual issues.

  • To build a pipeline, document the existing process, identify areas for improvement, and implement changes.

  • Communicate the new process clearly and establish a system for reviewing and updating the pipeline as needed.

  • Pipeline thinking fosters a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.