Forty-six thousand hopeful applicants received congratulatory messages from the prestigious University of California-San Diego. Unfortunately, 29,000 of those emails were sent to people the admissions department had actually rejected.
The local NBC news station covered the story:
The school’s communications office said an e-mail was sent Monday afternoon to all 46,377 students who applied for admission—including the 29,000 rejects—welcoming them to the campus.
A half-hour later, school officials said, they realized their mistake. Almost two hours after the first note went out, a second e-mail was sent, apologizing to 28,889 freshmen applicants for the mistake.
Accidentally delivering the wrong message is nothing new. However, the power of technology compounded by high stress work environments enables us to make even bigger mistakes faster than ever before. The Methodology Blog reviewed a similar case recently where a state office accidentally published Social Security numbers. A few years back, we also noted that the the Australian Football League fouled up a mailing. Each example is a routine organizational task which seems to lack a workable process. If there were any checks and balances in these systems to prevent major problems, those measures failed completely.
Your company is probably not communicating with those who hoped to become the next Mighty Tritons of UCSD. However, effective, reliable and robust procedures are essential to averting mistakes and maximizing productivity. If this story sounds like it could happen to you, contact AccelaWork. We help stakeholders take control of methodologies through our comprehensive business consulting services offering.