Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sins of Omission

Ogden Nash wrote about two kinds of sin: the sin of commission, and the sin of omission:
"It is the sin of omission, the second kind of sin,
That lays eggs under your skin.
The way you really get painfully bitten"
Problems have a tendency to loom. And when you created the problem, avoiding it is a sin of omission. I think we've all done it, too. Of course, it doesn't actually work very well.

Let's say you screwed up reporting some performance numbers - you meant to say 12 MB/s write rates, and you accidentally said 21 MB/s. No one reads those performance reports anyway, right?


In a month, the sales engineer is going to be doing a quote for a client, and he'll look up some recent performance numbers... and all of a sudden your customer is expecting to be able to fit in his backup window just fine because he only needs 18 MB/s. Only he's not going to get 18 MB/s.

That small reporting problem you didn't fix because it was embarrassing is now a client issue that has support, development, QA, and the account manager involved. Before it was "whoops". Now it's "how are we the company going to deal with this?". "Whoops" is a much better place to be.

So, when you find yourself picking up the corner of the proverbial rug and getting ready to sweep your mistake under, stop. Fix your mistake. Be forthright but not loud about it. And then move on. In a week you'll be the only one who remembers.

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