How To Capitalize On Other People’s MistakesPosted: January 2, 2013
We had a MAJOR catastrophe at work last week.
A MAJORLY STUPID catastrophe.
We received some data that we needed on a hard drive but we couldn’t get the data off the drive. The data arrived later than promised, so the fact that we couldn’t access the data once we got it was a big deal. At least, a big deal in my little world.
Meanwhile I was on vacation because it snowed 30 inches and my boss knows that whenever it snows I do not come to work (because I’m skier… not because I… melt, or anything like that).
My database guy emailed the team who sent us the hard drive and told them that they sent us the wrong kind of drive, which made everyone start arguing and pointing fingers instead of actually trying to solve the problem. This was great for my dad because every time I got a new email I got so pissed off that I went outside and shoveled all the snow off the deck.
About 3,000 emails later it was determined that the reason we couldn’t access the data was because we didn’t have the right adapter for the hard drive. We were supposed to have it. But my database guy didn’t realize that we needed it and loaned it to someone else, and we couldn’t track it down because it’s two days before Christmas and normal people are smart enough not to get tangled up in this kind of unnecessary drama when they’re on vacation. The fact that I could now focus on fixing the problem SHOULD have been all that mattered, but I’m not very mature; it pissed me off that in the end it was my guys who had made the mistake.
So, I had a cocktail (the kind you can drink all in one sip) and went outside to shovel the deck again but there wasn’t any more snow on it so I shoveled the neighbor’s deck. Then I came back inside and ended the email chain by taking responsibility for the problem and saying that I’d fix it. Then I laid down on the couch and thought about what my neighbors would think about the stellar shoveling job I did on their deck. I hoped that they would think I did it out of the kindness of my heart and Christmas spirit, because I liked the idea of getting credit for having Christmas spirit without actually having to muster up the energy to have any. Then I had another cocktail.
Two days later when I got back to the office I tracked down the hard drive, did 5 minutes of Googling, ordered a $20 part on Amazon, paid $3.99 for overnight shipping, and 24 hours later the problem was solved.
As frustrating as it is to work with people who create unnecessary problems, it can also work to your advantage… when other people screw up, it gives you an opportunity to solve a problem. I didn’t do anything particularly impressive, but I did do something that nobody else did… I made the crisis go away.
At the end of the day, I think that’s all people will remember.