Running Out of Toilet Paper

TP Is there any better metaphor for bad planning? You sit down to take care of your most personal of business and require this ubiquitous item to see you through the process to a successful outcome. Yet, despite its critical importance, how often do you sit and simply take for granted it will be there for you when you need it?

Well, today I did just that. It may be the first time in my life, but when I reached for it there was none to be had. Empty roll. No problem though because I was at work and we have those fancy double spindle deals and surely they weren't both empty, right? Wrong. So not only did my lack of basic planning bite me in the ass (so to speak), but the contingency that should have reduced the odds of this epic failure to microscopic proportions also failed.

Being a technology company, we see this kind of thing all the time. Technology is fickle and it will fail at the most inopportune and detrimental time. That's why we build in redundancies, back-ups, fail safes…you name it. But it's not usually the most complex or intricate thing that fails – it's usually the most basic, the most simple, the thing we should most easily be able to avoid. In other words, it's the running out of toilet paper.

I used to be in the camp of "don't sweat the small stuff." Now I'm a business owner of a tech company and I know all too well that it's the small stuff that usually gets you. So sweat the small stuff…all the time. Check, double check, plan, review the plan, adjust the plan, adapt, and build in contingencies. I'm not saying carry around your own TP (hmm…maybe), but you get the gist.

Oh, and to add insult to injury guess what was sitting on top of the toilet tank behind me when I finally got up? That's right, a spare roll of TP. So lesson number two (no pun intended)…sometimes the easiest solution is right in front of you (or right behind you).

Photo credit: MmMmMmMmMatt