A blunder is defined as the making of an unusually large mistake through stupidity, ignorance or carelessness, or a spectacularly bad action or decision; a mistake or gross error with detrimental consequences to the party who makes it. If you’re stirring in your chair thinking your error rate isn’t so bad, and everybody makes mistakes — read on. If you believe “blunders are eventually forgiven and forgotten,” I’m going to urge you to rethink that notion.
Some time ago, smaller businesses wanted a more level playing field, more competitive pricing, and a crack at sharing best practices. We wanted open forums, insight into division of labor practices and the expensive machines that go PING! and we got them. We also got competition with large and small companies who have fully embraced quality and its disciplines. These comparable companies can run hundreds of feet of finished surfacing per day — or per hour — and they can do it essentially error-free. In our brave new world of “expectation” the minor leagues are vanishing: You either make it in the majors or you just don’t make it. Blunders live long lives here.
Humor me for a moment or at least for the purposes of this discussion. I ask you to imagine a “blunder” is a dangerous wild animal — about the size of a deer — that’s prone to attacking companies and their workers. And today marks the opening of Blunder Season across these United States.
Everywhere — from big-box stores on the highway to small store fronts on the byway — you will find entrepreneurial hunters filling their quivers and adjusting their scopes; all in hopes of bagging a majestic 20-point Blunder that’s grown stout and juicy after feeding all year on smaller, but similar, woodland prey such as the Boney-Eared Botch and the Speckled Goof.
Every year, seasoned Blunder Hunters go out to protect their customers (and workers, too) from a toothy encounter with a wild Blunder. Still, one wily Blunder always seems to leap from its lair and makes a grisly meal out of some fabricator’s hard-earned promises of excellence. Blunder news travels fast and, suddenly, reputations are ruined, loyalties waver — and your competition is sweet-talking your still-shaky customer and sealing the new deals.
What Blunder Hunters must learn is bullets and arrows have a limited ability to harm the beast — once born they are immortal. To get the Blunder onto the endangered species list at your company requires birth control. Most effective is an assault on the Blunder’s preferred ecosystem, leaving them unsettled, undernourished and bored with procreation. A fully grown Blunder is well-fanged and fearless, taking fiendish delight embedding itself into the supple underbelly of your organization. Once the beast is dug in, the adult will mercilessly cause your shop to build and deliver a huge L-shaped kitchen that is backward, upside down and in the wrong color. Blunder begets blunder. However, the adolescent Blunder (known regionally as a Young Bungle) is still timid enough to be put off by signs of a well-trained staff or a shop that tracks its errors. Just the holding of a monthly quality meeting or the sight of an orderly binder marked “Confirming Drawings and Specs” will scare the Young Bungle far away.
The lesson: Make your environment uncomfortable for the Blunder and you’ll greatly lower your risk of attack.