I remember when I first learned that deodorant and anti-perspirant are not the same thing. I’ll admit, I’m not the smartest man in the world. I may have learned 6 or 7 years ago that pickles weren’t something you can grow and I discovered about a year ago that chocolate has caffeine in it. The things I don’t know represent a vast infinity of knowledge. But I know the difference between deodorant and anti-perspirant and just in case you don’t, I’ll explain it to you.

Deodorant is cologne for your armpits. It is body Febreeze. Meanwhile, anti-perspirant convinces your body not to sweat and hence, not to smell. That’s it. That’s the difference. But what does that have to do with anything, specifically business? Everything.

You see after I learned that there is a difference between these two products, I learned that one of them is not very healthy for you as either a hygiene product or as a business strategy. When something doesn’t go well, you need to have a strategy in place to resolve it. Things fail. You pivot. You adjust. You fix. Most importantly, you don’t just keep plugging away. When you recognize that something isn’t working, you need to fix it.

But a lot of people don’t. A lot of people don’t have any plan for what to do when shit goes south. Instead, they apply duct tape to anything that leaks. I’ll tell you a secret; a secret that you should know. You can’t fix a dam with duct tape. And that’s what anti-perspirant does. It essentially clogs your pores so that you can’t sweat. And here’s what happens when you plug the pores in your armpits. The sweat comes out somewhere else. This is just one of the reasons that people get acne. You can’t pretend that nothing bad happens. You can’t close your eyes and hope things are going to work out.

Deodorant doesn’t do that. Deodorant isn’t a plug. Deodorant admits there’s a problem. Think of the difference between “de” and “anti”. Which one of those is a negative thing? Once of those things is a response. The other is a blinder. You can’t stop things from happening. You can’t stop a customer from writing a terrible Yelp review. You can’t stop a customer from buying a competitors product. You can’t stop an employee from doing something stupid. You can try. But you can’t STOP anything. But you can deal with them.

Anti-perspirant tries to seal the un-sealable and when it comes to your business, you can’t seal anything. You need to be flexible. You need to be responsive. That’s why responsive design came about. Responsive design says “let’s make it so that no matter what happens, we respond to our customer’s needs.” Remember before responsive design when you basically got a pop-up that told you to go to hell anytime you tried to access a site that wasn’t built on the exact same platform you were viewing it on.

The next time that you’re trying to figure out how to manage your business or your personal hygiene, remember this conversation. Don’t just stick a cork in that hole in the dam. Figure out how you’re going to respond when the floodwaters come.