Lessons From Fixer Upper

2 Minute Read
HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, a married couple who takes run down properties and turns them into eye-popping homes.
There are a few lessons from Fixer Upper that we can apply to our own work in the IT space!

Start With The End

Each episode starts with a buyer looking at a few run down properties. The initial reaction from the buyers is usually the same with comments like “this house looks horrible” or “what’s that smell?!” The Gaines’ take these people into the homes and begin to share their “vision” of what the property could be. At this point, buyers start to get excited. They start seeing the potential for taking this horrible property and turning it into something better.
We must do the same thing in our own IT work. Part of our job is to sell the “vision” of what could be. Innovation requires someone with the ability to see what’s possible; to look beyond the current situation and see a path forward. Incrementally improving what currently exists is like slapping a new coat of paint on a run-down house and calling it ‘renovated.’ It doesn’t work. But you have to know what you’re trying to accomplish first.

You Need A Plan

Knowing what you want to accomplish is just the first step. Once the buyers on Fixer Upper choose a house, the Gaines’ get together to walk through the house and detail out what walls are coming down, the layout of the kitchen, flooring, paint…on and on. They don’t just dive in with a sledgehammer and start demolition! Would they be able to update these homes without a plan? Maybe. Would they look the way they do, be functional and continue to get new customers? Absolutely not.
In IT, we too often skip the planning phase. We think we’re too busy, or that planning takes too long. Or even worse? Our ego tells us we don’t need to plan…after all, we’ve been doing this for so long, we can handle anything, right? Wrong! It’s like the old adage says “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”


In most episodes of Fixer Upper, there’s always one or two things that were completely unexpected. Foundation issues, water leaks, lead paint…something. The Gaines’ understand that when you remove a wall, anything can happen and you have to be flexible.
In IT, running into hiccups often leads us to either abandoning the plan or stopping. At Wholestack Solutions, we have a motto (we stole part of it!) “accept, adapt and overcome.” If we run into a problem, we can argue, we can debate or we can accept. We choose to accept because, frankly, it takes less time, less energy and less money than all of the other options. We then adapt and overcome the issues.
IT innovation is just like remodeling old homes. It’s unpredictable, time consuming and frustrating. But if we start with the end in mind, plan and get prepared for the unexpected we can accomplish anything!
Perfection, Not Progress. Wait…What?
Whose Responsibility is it to Ensure Technology is Delivering Business Value?