I’m sorry I laughed, I really am but I just couldn’t help it.
The guy who’d made the monumental screw up was sitting head in hands looking for all the world like a frightened rabbit transfixed by onrushing headlights.
I was working for a subsidiary of a very large company trying to sort out what was good and what needed to be improved (and let’s be honest, it was the improvements they were looking for) in terms of the way communication flowed through and across the business.
How ironic, then, that it was a screw up in communication that was causing my colleague to wish he worked… well, anywhere other than with his employers on that day.
But it was a very simple mistake to make.
He asked one of the PAs to book conference rooms in a particular hotel so we could run communication focus groups. There weren’t any rooms available so she booked a different hotel just down the road.
The business I was working for operates a no blame culture so naturally my colleague was desperately trying to find out whose fault the cock-up was. But, unfortunately for him, all roads led back to his door. He searched his emails desperate not to find one, but there it was: Subject – Change of Venue… and the rest, as they say, was history.
‘Not to worry,’ says I, brightly. ‘Let’s just get to the venue, set up and call people on the way.’
So that’s what we did and we put out an email to everyone and got the PAs to do the same thing. And do you know what? The only person who didn’t make it on time was someone who got stuck in traffic on the motorway – nothing to do with having the wrong location at all.
There was a serious learning point to all this for me. I was staying in the hotel where we were supposed be having the meeting (but weren’t). Usually, the night before I would check the room, make sure it was set up correctly and so on. This time I didn’t… somehow it felt as though I would have been stepping on my colleague’s toes.
Ridiculous, I know, but there you are… and because I thought in that way there was potential for things to go really badly wrong. They didn’t, of course, but they might have done.
I future I will take the responsibility I should.
None of this stopped me taking the Mick mercilessly, though. From introducing our Communication focus group sessions with ‘How did you like Nick’s comms, then?’ All the way through to making sure all of Nick’s peers knew what happened.
Does that make me bad?