Murphy’s Law suggests, “Anything that can go wrong will.” Buy a house, the furnace goes out. Buy a car, the starter goes out. You name it, there’s always something that can go wrong. And it probably will.
But that doesn’t mean that we should avoid failure by not taking chances. Instead, it means that we should prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Anything that can go wrong probably will, but we’ll be ready for it.
Anything That Can Go Wrong Is Laughable
Murphy’s Law doesn’t know any strangers. Every scenario has the potential for a downhill spiral.
In my business, we often find issues with inventory when planning for graduation season. We may decide one year to manufacture less of a certain color gown that’s been historically unpopular. Of course, that turns out to be the year everyone orders that color, leading to a rush of manufacturing. This type of hiccup is what we call a “black swan.”
Knowing we’re bound to come across the occasional black swan, we find it helpful to laugh at ourselves. Humor and planning are the keys to turning a catastrophe into a triumph.
Anything That Can Go Wrong Can Be Avoided
Although being able to laugh at yourself is important, you also need to know how to avoid falling victim to Murphy’s Law in the first place. If you implement rules to avoid black swans, they can:
- Use humor to illustrate potential hiccups in your business.
- Remind your employees to be well-prepared for black swans.
- Keep potential issues top-of-mind.
- Deflect negativity when problems arise.
Accidents happen, and mistakes are made, but your success depends on your ability to stay positive and effectively react to issues as they arise.
Preparing for Anything That Can Go Wrong
Now that we’ve established that rules should be embraced, here are a few “Matthew’s Laws” to help you survive Murphy’s Law:
- 1. If you’re going to fail, do it early. That way, you learn quickly what not to do in the future. Not to mention, the sooner you fail, the cheaper it is to fix.
- 2. Always have a backup plan. If you sell a product and order less than you need, you have to be prepared for demand. Consumers tend to want more of a product as soon as you begin producing less of it.
- 3. Start before you’re ready. Don’t wait for all the stars to align. If you start today, you’ll have a better chance of finishing on time.
- 4. Move up your due date. Setting a timeframe in this way allows for better efficiency and less procrastination. Murphy’s Law loves procrastinators.
- 5. Try something new as often as you can. You don’t need to be an expert to complete a project. How do you think people become experts, anyway?
Anything That Can Go Wrong Can Go Right
Thanks to our rules, the culture at Gordon Group has grown substantially. We’ve used Matthew’s Laws to combat Murphy’s Law by:
- Creating opportunities. We empower our employees to learn new skills and try new roles. For example, our e-commerce director started as a warehouse worker. We want our employees to explore new areas and experience failure early so they learn their limitations and abilities.
- Being flexible. One thing that’s deeply ingrained in our culture is the ability to change a plan at any time. Even if you think you have the perfect production schedule, be ready to change it based on unexpected client demand.
- Becoming multipliers. We live by the 80-percent rule. By completing at least 80 percent of each project, we’re able to tackle a larger number of projects. Once we’re at 80 percent completion for all projects, we can take the remaining 20 percent and work on completing 80 percent of that. This process amplifies our production and gives everyone a workable goal.
Look for opportunities to build a culture of black swan-crushing attitudes. Create rules that are fun and memorable. Your rules should protect your business, product, and employees with one goal in mind: to be the best, even at your worst.
Have you encountered any black swans in your business? What rules have you put in place to help your team avoid or successfully overcome them?