I burnt my arm twice when cooking pizza in a brick-oven…never a third time

– Joe the Pizza man

Which of the following 3 scenarios is true?

  • I accidentally deleted 2 years’ worth of research at a startup by deleting material on my laptop and allowing the change to sync with the company-wide cloud – the CTO was able to stop and salvage on time.
  • I sent out a test email by mistake to the entire user database that was irrelevant, unnecessary, and filled with nonsense – many unsubscribes, uninstalls, and spam reports.
  • A work-in-progress version of an updated website was pushed to production, overriding the live (and not-backed-up website) – we ended up with a new and incomplete website.

And the winner is…drum roll…all three!

But you knew that, right?

Looking back at these three, they were painful, stressful, and I wouldn’t wish anyone to be in those extremely uncomfortable situations and crises. Luckily for me I was supported by a good team who were aware mistakes can happen (even large ones), and we were able to turn panic into quick and efficient mitigation and remediation. Of course, it also taught valuable lessons including automated (and frequent) website backups, creating a test email group to avoid an accidental push to all, and setting up my very own synced folder to be as empty or full as I wish.

Some of these mitigatory processes may seem elementary and should have been in place before, but I never encountered these specific errors prior, so I was unprepared for them. Thanks to my mistakes, I was able to learn and mitigate accordingly.

Now by no means should you go delete your company’s database in order to see if you got the support of others, or artificially create a lesson to learn from, but whether we like it or not, we will make a mistake…and another…and another.

We can try to plan ahead to minimize such mistakes and errors, but we cannot simply avoid them altogether.

Accept mistakes when they happen, clear your panic, and find a way to fix them. And once they are fixed, think about what you can put in place or prepare for or get ready to avoid that specific mistake again.

By the way, I’m still making mistakes…frequently 🙂