Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
I was introduced to Murphy’s Law early in my training to become a Naval Aviator. It was drilled into each of us fledglings. Our instructors taught us those many things that could go wrong and, importantly, how to deal with each of them successfully. Expect the unexpected. Accordingly, we drilled and drilled and drilled for the unexpected but possible, so we would be prepared where and whenever Mr. Murphy struck—which he did!
I recall flying back to NAS Pensacola when the dual engine aircraft I was flying lost the port (left) engine. Smoke billowed out, and I executed fire emergency procedures. I diverted fuel to the starboard engine, the good one, shutting down the port engine. However, the fuel selector valve failed, and with it, I also lost the starboard engine. In other words, I was flying without power.
Yes, there’s another side to Murphy’s law. As in my case, when something goes wrong, other problems will arise spontaneously. Like metabolic syndrome, it’s typically not one thing but the sum of related events that do you in. Fortunately, I dead-sticked (i.e., flying, or more accurately, gliding, without power) the aircraft and brought my crew and me to safety. My training paid off. (For more, check out pages 182 – 185 of my new book, AVOIDING CRITICAL MARKETING ERRORS: How to Go from Dumb to Smart Marketing, to learn how to prepare for the unexpected.)
Murphy’s Law assailed Skanska, the construction company building the 3-mile Pensacola Bridge when Hurricane Sally engulfed Pensacola. It sent several barges loose, two of which collided with the bridge and took out a section, the others washed ashore, causing damage to the shoreline.
The company stated that it made “all appropriate preparations” based upon the information it had prior to Sally bearing down on Pensacola. Namely, Sally was initially classified as a Tropical Storm and expected to hit some 200 miles west of Pensacola Bay. A company spokesperson said, “The sudden shift in the intensity, direction, and duration of the storm was unprecedented and entirely unexpected by the entire Pensacola community. Unfortunately, it was neither safe nor feasible to attempt the removal of barges and other equipment in the brief period between the storm’s sudden intensification and its ultimate landfall.”
Skanska management failed to expect the unexpected. Mr. Murphy struck—big time! I can imagine communications between onsite management with the home office. In assessing the potential situation, at least one of the decision-makers probably downplayed the risk in favor of staying on schedule and keeping costs down to preserve profit. Skanska had previously lost out on earning a bonus back in February due to falling behind schedule on the $400-million project. Now, due to the decision not to transport the barges to safety, it faces further delays in the completion of the bridge (by a few months) and will result in untold financial losses.
Expect the unexpected. Mr. Murphy strikes businesses too in the form of internal (i.e., related to the company) and external (i.e., competitive, marketplace, regulatory, etc.) forces. The late Peter Drucker, management guru and professor, who is considered the father of modern management, created Drucker’s Law, which was inspired by Murphy’s Law: “If one thing goes wrong, everything else will, and at the same time.” We must undertake contingency planning to identify and address unexpected but potentially devastating occurrences to our launches, brands, and businesses. If not, we will pay dearly.
Neither overstate your capabilities nor underestimate your competition. Read AVOIDING CRITICAL MARKETING ERRORS: How to Go from Dumb to Smart Marketing. Learn more here: http://bdn-intl.com/avoiding-critical-marketing-errors
Stay SAFE and be well.
Peace and best wishes,