You forgot? Didn’t I ask you to remember?

“Oh drat!”, says Ashok, as he gets up from his computer chair. “I am printing a 12-page stock investment statement, but ran out of paper sheets at 5 pages. If I study this report today, I can plan for our investments for the coming financial year. Baby, I am going to the department store to get some A4 pages, okay?”, he says to his wife Bindia.

“Okay dear…. but, can you get some sweet corn while you are there? Let’s have some nice corn soup instead of the same boring tea in the evening.”, adds Bindia. Ashok nods at her, “Okay”, and is on his way to the store.

Later, Ashok enters his room with a stack of papers, ready to print the remaining 7 pages. While he is shuffling the papers, Bindia comes behind him and asks, “And where is the corn?” Ashok is confused, “What co….. oh drat! I forgot baby! Sorry!”.  Bindia is disappointed, “But I asked you to remember, honey. It’s not like I called you up in the middle of your shopping or when you were driving. I told you well in advance. Don’t be so forgetful, dear. So, it will be the same old boring tea again.”

How did corn slip through the cracks? Do you think Bindia has done enough by telling Ashok to get the corn before he left for shopping? Do you think Ashok is justified in forgetting because he was busy with something else?

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One simple idea to get things right

In his book The Checklist Manifesto, Boston based surgeon Dr. Atul Gawande mentions that failures occur due to the following reasons. The top three of them are:

  1. Lack of knowledge
  2. Lack of proficiency despite the knowledge
  3. Completely unforeseen circumstances.

But more than 90% of his best-selling selling book highlights the failure of the fourth kind. You may have complete knowledge about a subject, you may have gained enough fluency to be an expert and the task ahead of you is completely predictable and smooth. Yet you goof up, because you forgot a step by either not paying attention to it or because some other step distracted you. These are the mistakes that are the easiest to eliminate and yet they keep creeping up in our day-to-day work. In this post, we discuss why they occur and how to eliminate them.

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