Often when we talk about backup and continuity we focus on the dramatic. Fire. Flood. Snow. Ice. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Meteors. And yet we don’t focus on a leading cause of needing backups – human beings. Human beings make mistakes. Backup helps us “erase” those mistakes. Human beings making mistakes; backup allowing us to go back in time prior to those mistakes happening is to me one of the singular allures in our industry. We believe that the way we make our “dent in the universe” is helping IT professionals have not just more uptime but more confidence. And there’s nothing more confidence inspiring that having the freedom to accelerate what you do knowing that you can quickly and easily recover from a mistake that you make. Thus, mistakes and backup go hand in hand.

Yesterday Unitrends made a mistake of a different kind. One of our marketing folks sent out a nurture e-mail to our e-mail subscribers that contained an advertisement for a backup target webinar. Unfortunately, that e-mail had a mistake in it – the person sending the e-mail accidentally included an aggressive image that was unacceptable at the bottom of the e-mailer. It was a treatment developed designed to resonate with the webinar subject and be “over the edge” – so that the marketing person could “find the edge.” It was unanimously rejected in the review process – as expected – but an inadvertent mistake with a simple copy/paste in an editor caused the image to be copied at the bottom of the e-mail.

There is no “backup” for that mistake.

What happened next was that the marketing person making this mistake saw what occurred, sent out an apology to the e-mail list and on social media, and the IT professional community took over. A contest was proposed by an IT professional for the best ad on one social media platform and was quickly embraced. The image that we used above was generated from one such IT pro – Matt Burakowski – who posted it to Spiceworks. I loved it immediately when I saw it – because it captures so succinctly and so well the essence of what we try to do at Unitrends – help IT professionals erase mistakes using backup.

As Matt’s cartoon shows, human beings do stupid things. It’s in our nature. And as we attempt to gain mastery of what we do, and we push ourselves ever harder for achieving our purpose, we make more mistakes. If you add autonomy to the mix it means that our review processes and quality assurance have to be perfect to prevent mistakes. Nothing human beings do is perfect. Every day IT professionals across the world make mistakes – big fat-fingered mistakes – and they learn from those mistakes and become better. As we advance backup technology, we make erasing and resolving those mistakes easier.

If you’re wondering what happened to the person who made the mistake and issued the apology – the answer is that he learned from it and that he and his manager implemented some QA processes to attempt to prevent it from reoccurring. It won’t be the last mistake we make – I tell people with whom I work that I typically make more mistakes in a day than many of them do in a month. The key is “making better mistakes faster” – and having an open and risk-taking culture that embraces mistakes as a learning vehicle. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t embarrassed by what happened; we are – and I am. But it means that we accept mistake-making as part of our culture of purpose, mastery, and autonomy.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.


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