Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Anatomy of an Error

Some of the best advice I've ever heard anyone give -- ever -- is that anytime you're entering into conflict resolution, or a dispute, or you're responding to a perceived slight, etc. Always go in assuming the best intentions on the part of the other party.

Here is how something just got screwed up:

(1) CC calls today around 4 p.m. and says, "Can you provide me with ____." Being ever the dutiful staffer, and having that very document laying on the desk nearby, I say, "Yes. I can scan it and e-mail it right to you."

(2) I scan it, e-mail it, and consider it another task checked off, move on, and don't think about it again, until

(3) CC, speaking at Council meeting to Mayor, refers to document that was "sent out by your office."

(4) Another CC wonders, "Why didn't I have that information?" I can't blame the person asking the question. The way it was initially introduced, it sounded as if the information was being put *out* (as opposed to being sent to that individual, who had asked) which naturally begs the question of why everyone didn't have it.

(5) I watch at home, squirm a bit in my seat, and then see that things move on and then the meeting adjourns a few minutes later.

Lesson Learned: If any ONE of the group requests a document, info, a 'lookup,' etc. SEND IT TO ALL NINE. Even if the other eight are just carbon copied. This exact issue has come up with the CM before, so I sorta shoulda known...However, it didn't even occur to me in the moment (only when it came back up at tonight's meeting did I remember the previous iteration of this, which took place a couple years ago).

No one lost life, limb, or eyesight. The world will move on. No one acted with malice -- not the person who made the request, not me, not that person when he brought it up, and not the person who questioned it. Still, the post-mortem autopsy shows me where the error was made, and it won't happen again.

And I will conclude by asking anyone reading this (yes, all 12 of you!) to remember that the next time you see something that's screwed up, or even has the appearance of being screwed up, just remember that sometimes there's an explanation that can be explained by simple oversight or unfamiliarity with a procedure -- it's the same thing you'd want in return.


kad barma said...

Occam's Razor would have us believe that the simplest explanation (in this case, unintended error) is usually correct, but I've always found Hanlon's Razor to be more eloquent: "Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity".

C R Krieger said...

I'm with Kad, unless it involves "improvements" to Blogger.

Regards  —  Cliff