Technical Difficulties are Your Responsibility

Blue Screen of Death

Technical difficulties are your responsibility. They’re not always your fault. Those are two different things. But they are your responsibility. Famous author and management expert, Tom Peters told me he books two completely separate flights to events he’s paid to speak at, in case something happens with one of them. Sure, it costs more, he told me, but that way, I have done what I can to ensure my safe and timely arrival to satisfy my client’s contract.

I’m reminded of this today because I was working on a video interview I did and it collapsed. I didn’t do anything to cause it. It’s not technically my fault, but it’s my responsibility. The problem, of course, is that it’s an interview. And because I now have no file, I now have to sheepishly request a repeat interview. Sometimes, this can be accomplished, and I imagine the person involved will grant me another shot. Other times, not so much. I shudder to imagine what would’ve happened if my interview with Sir Richard Branson hadn’t saved properly. Well, I know what would’ve happened: I’d have been left with nothing.

The Three A’s Apply Here

In the restaurant business, I was taught The Three A’s: acknowledge, apologize, act. Acknowledge that something happened that shouldn’t have happened. Apologize (without making excuses). Act on the problem so that you can hopefully ensure no repeats. This is probably the most important part of what you should take away from this post today. When something goes wrong, it’s your responsibility (not fault), and you should practice the Three A’s as soon as you can. (I sent a letter to my colleague almost immediately after it crashed and I found that I wouldn’t be able to recover the file.)

And Then, Move Forward

Accept that something happened, see if there’s a Tom Peters approach to doubling down on mitigating the risk, if that makes sense, and work forward. That’s all you can do.

To that end, how often are you backing up your files? If you answer this with “I should” or anything other than “daily” or “weekly,” reconsider. And by the way, should you feel especially awesome that you’re an early adopter and have backed up to a cloud service, you might consider doubling that. Why? What if one of these businesses shuts down? If you’ve never seen the TechCrunch Dead Pool, it’s time to read up. Businesses close (sometimes abruptly) all the time. Back up.

Are we good on this?

And sorry for anyone I’ve ever caused frustration through a technical error. The more you use technology (especially bleeding edge), the more chances you have to fail. runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Steve Garfield

    That app shouldn’t have crashed on you and lost everything.

    Sorry this happened to you.

    I guess you could set up a pocket HD video camera to shoot the screen at the same time as you do a screen recording.

    • Chris Brogan

      Right. I thought about it AFTER, now that I lost it. But it’s never happened before so I didn’t even expect it. : (

  • Varadharajan K

    How can I describe the timing? My daughter went to her Sloka class and came back without the file on her new Acer Tab. I think she might have touched something and would have stopped or it rebooted being Android. I am not sure. Her teacher is such a great Pundit and teaches with such passion. She felt so miserable. This post was read out loud at my place and that is helping us move forward. So timely a post for us.

    • Chris Brogan

      Wow! I love when that happens. : ) I mean, not the bad part, but that we had serendipity.

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  • Rohit Agarwal

    nice post…

  • Matt Brennan

    Ugh. Yea, I’ve had to completely rewrite a few things in the past due to this. It’s a miserable feeling.

  • Ayaz

    Well! its caused lots problems when you didn’t save up your files properly and that’s sometimes caused me very badly and that’s really a miserable feeling but after that I made a habit of ensuring to save the file first.

  • bsoist

    Excellent advice. I don’t remember hearing that story about Peters. It’s a great example of going above and beyond to be prepared.

  • Brian Watkins

    Great advice, Chris, especially about the three A’s. Learning the hard way not backing stuff up when it counts is something we learn from the hard way, quickly.

  • Tina Abbott

    I really appreciate the distinction between responsibility and fault.

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