You’ll Never Run Out of Things to Go Wrong

The team spent months preparing for this initiative. It was one of my first infrastructure projects where we were implementing a new development office that would house about 40 technical staff. There would also be a data warehouse to be used by all global development teams so it reduced their time creating test data as well as share code. We had some very smart people who had done similar projects in the past. The team worked countless hours planning, identifying risks and putting in place mitigations. We were ready. What could go wrong?

An earthquake! That’s what went wrong. This is California. The office was in a newer development outside of San Francisco that had never experienced an earthquake before. The area was so new, the next closest completed building was half mile away. When an earthquake struck a month after the office opened, it went down. I’m not talking for a few hours, I’m talking a few weeks! Even with our backup generator, we had no data connections so information could continue to flow. We were dead in the water!

Not even the most senior team member had ever experienced this. Through all our planning, we felt we had everything covered. It was all thought out. What could possibly go wrong?! Well, now we knew.

I was reminded of this as a new effort is about to kick off. A sub-contractor joked that this project is relatively straight forward. The scope is well defined. Nothing should go wrong, so no need to worry. Wanna bet!?!?

When it comes to project risks, you will never run out of things that can go wrong. Even if you think everything is covered, think again. Dig deeper. Eventually, there will be something uncovered you’ll need to worry about!

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