It’s 6 am, and I’m sitting in an airport lounge I didn’t intend to be in, at an airport I didn’t want to visit. My flight was cancelled yesterday because of ‘engineering problems’. At the same time, the airline had a problem with its information systems and they ‘lost’ my phone number (so they couldn’t let me know). I rocked up to the airport and received the bad news… too late. There were no more flights last night that were any use to me. My choices were either another night in a hotel at a regional city, or a van trip to a neighbouring city where I have friends I could stay with. I chose the latter, and here I am!
Ordinarily this all wouldn’t be such a big issue, but I had a major deal closing today at the other end of the country, and I won’t now make it. I’m sure my team will do a great job but it’s not good to miss the meeting where the two teams convene to hammer out the details of the proposal.
This all highlights for me the ease with which a small failure can stop a major plan from happening. If the plane had been okay I would have made my meeting; if the information system had performed I would have made my meeting. But the two failures together by the airline were too much.
They’ve cancelled planes before, but have always rung me, and I’ve made other arrangements. So, should I start ringing before each flight to check it’s still on? No, because there are too many points of potential failure to cover all of them off. The only viable response is to ensure the business never hinges on one connection. In this case, there will probably be enough senior people from my team at the meeting to get the job done… I hope!! Still, it’s been a useful reminder that the plan can always break down, and I and the company must always be ready to adapt.