I often hear the comment, “That's just a Band-Aid solution. You haven't really gotten to the source of the problem.” Usually, the person making the comment has no real idea of the nature of the problem, its subtleties, or what's involved in trying to fix it. An improvised solution often is both a good one and all you're going to get, given the time, budget, and technical constraints.
I was reminded of this when I replaced the digital clock in our shower. It's one of those cheap $4 battery units. The problem was that these units are not designed for the humid conditions of a shower. They were failing every 6-12 months, with corrosion on the battery contacts, display-digit segments going bad, and some sort of mold or crud inside. (I didn't bother to analyze this substance further.)
My initial thought was to make some sort of waterproof enclosure, but a simple zipper-lock bag was too big and lacked the optical clarity I needed. As I delved further into the alternatives, the various solutions I scoped out were bigger than the problem I was looking to solve. Finally, I said, “What the heck? I'll just wrap the clock in some heavy, clear plastic wrap,” which I had on hand. It wasn't a true waterproof solution, but it was worth a try.
I'm happy to report the problem seems solved. It's not that moisture can't get past the imperfect seams and openings in this wrap. It certainly can. But most of the humidity from the shower is condensing on the outside of the wrap. Very little is getting inside to cause problems. It looks as if the Band-Aid solution is working. Though it is not the solution I originally was seeking, I'm OK with that.
This is a common engineering situation. You have a problem, and either the exact cause and mechanism is unclear, or implementing a complete solution up front is difficult. So you try a little of this and that and hopefully put together enough pieces to give you a satisfactory solution.
Think about an elusive EMI/RFI problem where the source is hard to find or the path it takes into your system is hard to pin down. You add extra bypass capacitors in various places, maybe some strategically placed ferrite beads, and perhaps even some shielding. Somehow these all add up to reducing the noise.
Are these steps a Band-Aid solution or just good engineering practices? It depends on your perspective, I guess. Have you ever been criticized for trying such a solution? Have you ever criticized someone else's improvised solution?