Never Rely on a Single Point of Failure

“Do you have a pen I can borrow?” At a recent ASTD conference session, not one but two people around me asked this question. Here we were, about to hear one of the world’s experts in our field and two highly trained professionals didn’t have a pen!

Never Rely on a Single Point of Failure

Several months ago I read a post (I wish I could remember where) that I have thought about dozens of times since. It was about the concept of a “single point of failure”. A single point of failure is anything that, if it fails, then whatever you are doing is dramatically or fatally hindered.

  • Ever been to a presentation when the PowerPoint wouldn’t work or the meeting was delayed trying to get it to work? There are at least four points of failure: the disk (or drive) you use to load the presentation, the computer, the projector, and the cable to the projector. If any one of these goes wrong, it’s not going to work. To avoid problems (and major embarrassment), have more than one of as many of these as you can. Even better, be prepared to do your presentation without PowerPoint. At the ASTD conference, one of the presenters, Lisa Haneberg, announced that she was not going to use PowerPoint and the crowd cheered!
  • I work out in a gym in my building before work. I take one towel with me. If I forget my towel, I have to dry off with paper towels from the men’s room (not that this has every happened). Now, I hide a towel at my desk in case I forget to bring one from home.
  • Have you ever lost your wallet? A good idea is to make a photocopy of all the cards (both sides) in your wallet. Then give the copy to someone you trust. In the event you lose your wallet, you can contact them for the information you will need.
  • I love to use a digital recorder especially when I’m in the car. But sometimes, either I forget it or the batteries are dead. That’s in part why I love jott. As long as I have my cell phone with me, I can leave myself a message that ends up in my Inbox.

Even if everything comes off without a hitch, redundancy helps you relax and be better at what you do. So, I encourage you to stamp out the “single points of failure” in your world.

Question: And . . . after I wrote this about 6:30 this morning, I locked my keys in the car at 10. Special thanks to my wife who came and rescued me. Any hints on how to stomp out this “single point of failure”? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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4 thoughts on “Never Rely on a Single Point of Failure

  1. OnStar is great if you have a GM vehicle. My suggestion is to make a couple of spare keys. Keep one in your wallet (there are credit card-sized sleeves you can slip the key into). Keep one in your office. Keep one in your locker at the gym. BMW offers a small, light emergency key made out of plastic that weighs nothing and is good for a couple of dozen uses. Not sure if other manufacturers do as well.
    Oh… and get AAA if your car is slim jim-able (BMWs are not BTW). They’ll get you into your car in no time at all.

  2. Thanks, Marc. I think I will get a couple of extra keys and put them in strategic places.
    I don’t think it would be worth it to retrofit my old car (1999).
    Craig