Missing the Obvious

When we’ve been immersed in problem or search for a while, any initial mistakes are carried forward and multiplied.
This morning, I corrected a mistake that would’ve cost a coworker and myself about $400 each. A computer was missing from the inventory conducted before the transition from one record keeping system to another. For the past year, staff and the building itself were subject to intermittent schedules and quick fixes. We had two documents, an entry on a really old spreadsheet and a user hand receipt. Both were old.

Physical searches were made in the main building and some recently opened satellite locations. The property clerk responsible for tracking all property and maintaining the records stated several times that the property was NOWHERE within these locations. As a last resort, I decided to go through all my older email using a search feature for the serial number. I got several hits in attached spreadsheets.

I was able to find the serial number within the spreadsheet. That gave me a computer name. I searched for the computer name on the network and it was there! I tried remote access and was able to tell it was being used by the very same property clerk. I was unable to determine if the serial number was a match. A coworker using another remote access tool was able to confirm that it was.

The property clerk had failed to include his own computer (used daily) in the search. And, no one else had thought to check there either. Of course, apologies followed. But a simple missing of the obvious magnified the problem unnecessarily.

We all have stories like this. Less likely is that we openly admitted the error and assumed personal responsibility. Often we admit a lesser error (maybe forgetting to check somewhere obscure for the item), we lessen the blame by implicating additional people, or we allow the error to simply carry forward and never admit to it. I’ve done all those things myself … unless it would damage someone else. You?