You don’t hear this word much. It’s defined as something that is done for a specific reason or purpose. On the surface, it appears to be quite thoughtful when you choose to do something ad hoc.
While in a meeting the other night, someone wisely cautioned everyone to not do things ad hoc. At first, this felt strange. If doing something ad hoc has a reason or purpose, why could it be harmful?
I confess that my impression of what ad hoc meant was different. When something is done ad hoc, I thought, it meant that it is rushed and abrupt. The course of action chosen was the quick solution to the problem focused on.
This struggle towards understanding context, in both thought
and conversation, is forever with us.
While my impression of what ad hoc meant implies a more emotional response, I never used this word as part of my definition. In looking at the official definition of the word it appears to be quite rational to do something ad hoc.
As I write this, it becomes clear to me that ad hoc solutions have an emotional component to them. The rush to be right and helpful. Releasing frustration by choosing to do something. My definition implies this. Yet the official one doesn’t. Why?
The problem with ad hoc is that, even without emotion, doing something without thinking about the situation and context around a situation is not a good idea. Anytime, we do something in isolation, the likely result is that it won’t fit the longer term need or goal.
Think of a puzzle and its overall picture. To be effective in life, we need to find pieces that fit the puzzle. Things that are ad hoc were never in the puzzle box. They don’t quite fit. They have a different pattern than what is needed to get to something much more complete in the future.
Ad hoc approaches will always accomplish something. It feels good for you have found the next step to take. The question is whether or not ad hoc solutions will take you down a winding road away from where you need to get to long term.
The words ad hoc should always remind us to slow down and look further down the road to see where we need to get to before jumping ahead.