The low cost of getting it right

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There's joy in achieving goals -- and then we set out for the next major adventure

Climber on the summit.We’re having a yucky time right now.

With the key (and well-paid) administrative employee on maternity leave, the person filling in on the job is working for less money per hour.  She hasn’t been trained or guided on processes very well. (Yes, we have a well-organized administrative manual, but there are things that can only be learned through experience.)

When the deadline approached for the final printing proofs for the current issues, she found no errors or problems. I should have wondered why.  Instead, I completed my usual cursory review, signed off, and sent the pages to the printer.

Alas, in the last two days, we’ve discovered serious errors in four advertisements, including a glaringly embarrassing one, where a well-known (and meticulous) sub-contractor congratulates a competitor, rather than the correct business, in a special feature advertisement. Overall, I count about $2,000 in errors that will result in write offs or corrections — far more than the hourly pay savings for the temporary administrative employee.  I fear we will soon find more, even more serious, errors.

I allowed my emotions to go a bit wild today, despite my best efforts to separate personal feelings and frustrations from any insult or attack on anyone else in the organization, including the administrator who simply hadn’t been given the training and tools and had no way of knowing what should have been expected.

What a mess. Potentially unsatisfied clients, degraded product quality, tension, frustration, and the like — a true systems breakdown.

Could we have done things better?  Hindsight is 20/20 and the specific reasons why we find ourselves with an untrained person in a key responsibility can be explained and rationalized, but I’ll go with the simple answer that I should have made sure we were better prepared. I’m rolling up my sleeves, reviewing the mistakes, correcting what I can, but equally, sensing that I’m playing at times a penny-wise and pound foolish game. It is a stressful process.

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