Today I experienced a Normal Accident that resulted in a catastrophic failure in handing in an assignment that was (ironically) due for my Catastrophic Failures in Organizations course.
A Normal Accident is characterized by four features:
- Equipement Failures
- Operator Error
- Negative Synergy
The catastrophic normal accident bloomed out of a day that seemingly started on the right foot. Not only did I finish the paper in time to make and eat lunch but my roommate also informed me that we were going to make pizza for dinner! But as I read over my paper one last time, saved the document for the first time, and tried to emailed the paper to myself to print at the library, disaster struck. I could not find the document in the attachments box that had popped up.
I was surprisingly calm and told myself it would not be a big deal because documents have been saved in the wrong folder before. I told myself that all I needed to do was go to the recent documents section and voila my paper will appear. That did not happen. Finder was also no help. An Equipment Failure had occurred.
I felt like throwing the empty soup bowl at the wall. On Saturday as I waited for the onions to caramelize in the bacon grease I had read my weekly horoscope which had contained a warning about the loss of information within the IT department. This disappearance of a paper on Hydro One’s ERM process could have been avoided if I had just listened to the stars. I had made an operator error in not copying and pasting the contents of my paper into my email prior to closing the “saved document” and the train of operator errors continued as I restarted the computer in hopes the document would reappear.
The result was one of negative synergy as the document did not reappear and the titled document also disappeared from the recent documents section on Word. The negative synergy features continued as the only solution was to rewrite the whole paper. With the context still fresh in my mind, rewriting the paper only took an hour but the downfall continued. The document was printed at the library without too much turmoil but as I sped-walked to the building at the corner of Bloor & St. George it started to rain. The only way to avoid handing in an absolutely drenched assignment was to shove it down my hoodie.
I was wearing the running shorts from last night’s 4k+ in intervals workout when I walked into class. The paper was an hour and a half late. The paper was also crumpled and stained. I told my prof I had experienced a catastrophic normal accident and he laughed at me and told me to learn from the experience.