Painful lessons of defiance and carelessness

frustrated contractor

istock sad business person on stairsThere are days, and then there are days. Yesterday turned out to be not-such-a-good day, thanks to some carelessness and defiance, on unrelated matters.

The carelessness

I structured a bulk email using a high-quality contributed list, broken down by geographical segments. The first segment worked well, so I proceeded to the second, making the changes I thought necessary to accommodate its distinctive requirements. I decided, however, to shortcut the email verification protocol — checking all links and most importantly, sending a test email to a small list (myself) to make sure all is right. I thought: “Since this is a rebuild of something I’ve just done, I should be okay with a push through.”

Unfortunately, the broadcast email had a header meant as an internal designator (the list source). There was enough information on that inaccurate header to associate the list with the source and cause complaints there. So I mucked up an important relationship. And there was an inaccurate link sending people to the wrong place. Bad again.

Lessons learned: Double check everything before hitting “send’ especially when many people will receive the message and or course when the message has any importance. (You will want to triple check RFP submissions, of course, especially ones with specific compliance requirements.)

The defiance

I have responsibilities as a local leader for a national voluntary association. We’ve had a (very bad) local website for many years, that has fallen into disrepair. The national association asked us to use instead a “page” on its website — an improvement over our local site, but by far not state-of-the-art (and with a content management system I found hard to understand/decipher.) So I contracted offshore and had the local association chapter website rebuilt to modern standards. It looks quite nice. I then innocently asked the national association office to link to it — only to receive the wrath of the association powers-that-be that I was to take down the “new” and unauthorized site immediately.

Lessons learned: This one is more complex. Personally I think our local website is quite good. The initiative didn’t cost the chapter budget a significant amount of money and it may provide evidence to the national association office about what can be achieved with limited resources. But it never feels good to have your hand slapped. This leads to fear, a drive to conformity and a desire not to rock the boat. Maybe these values are essential if you want to win projects where the rules are clear and you should know them ahead of time. In this situation, I feel “bad” but, if the circumstances were repeated (with the same knowledge I had at the time), I would probably think I did the right thing.

These stories reveal some of the practical elements in decision-making and activities within any activity, but especially in terms of marketing. We have no excuse for sloppiness or carelessness — simple double-checks can save many headaches. If we elect to stand out and risk defiance of rules, order and systems, we should expect in the majority of cases, we will run into problems. The challenge in these decisions: Deciding if the risks of defiance are worth the potential rewards, either of success or in drawing attention to issues that need resolution.

Courage has value; recklessness generally not. And we could consider recklessness to be defiance combined with carelessness. Yesterday, I was both defiant and careless, but thankfully not reckless — as the matters related to separate circumstances.

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