How to Move On After a Major Screw-up
It’s happened to all of us, in varying degrees. We send off an e-mail by mistake. We attribute the wrong quote to a source. We pull out all the wrong numbers for a report. We launch a project that ends up a flop. Shit happens. But after getting red in the face, what does one do?
1. Acknowledge what went wrong. You can’t address a problem if you are in denial. I had a major boo-boo a few years ago, which was primarily a technical problem involving a new software that we were trying out. It was difficult not having anybody to talk to; more difficult because many people thought it was my mistake. Since news had spread, I couldn’t very well send out an apology letter to explain that it was a software glitch. But yes, I realized that part of it was my mistake.
2. Think of what could have been done to avoid the incident. I could have done a test to ensure that the program worked. I could have put the launch on hold when I realized that there was something off with the system. However, I did not. What was worse was that the agent who offered me the software lied and said he had instructed me not to go on with the launch.
3. Learn the lesson. Since then, I’ve learned to always test. And I’ve kept the lesson to heart. (Of course, if that happens again, I’m really screwed.)
4. Forget. Because we’re only human and we make mistakes. On to the next!