Hard drive docThe unthinkable happened. While doing my final preparation, the afternoon before I had to deliver a full day of facilitation for the board of an international shipping company, my hard drive crashed and my computer died. It was the second computer to die on me in six weeks, and my backup hard drive had recently been corrupted. Access to all my work gone. I had nothing.
I rushed online and went to our company’s dropbox to see if we had saved any copies of the content I was to deliver the next day. I spent the next two hours with knots the size of soccer balls in my gut as I downloaded content from the cloud on to my iPad to be delivered the following day. While this was downloading I had to rush to my local IT store to buy the adapters that I needed to connect my iPad to audiovisual equipment.
Despite all the agony and the stress, the following day I was able to deliver my presentation to my clients with them not even aware of how close to disaster things had been a mere 12 hours before.
Here are 5 lessons that I learned in this exercise and have applied to future planning.
The reason technology fails is often less to do with the technology and more to do with the idiots who use it. While it is unusual to have two pieces of technology fail in such a short space of time, the reality is that the data wasn’t immediately available because the human responsible for backups had not been disciplined in making sure that it happened. It is never okay to only have your data sitting in one place.
cloud-computingDon’t just back up to hardware, also back up to the cloud. I was able to get information downloaded without needing access to any physical hardware I had with me.  If the same thing had happened to me anywhere in the world it wouldn’t have mattered whether I had my backup drive with me because by going online I could get everything that I needed.
It pays to invest in a technology ecosystem. If I had an android tablet, with a Microsoft PC, and an iPhone it would’ve been much more difficult to have pulled this situation out of the proverbial fire. My plan B recovery wouldn’t have been possible if the presentation content had not been compatible across all devices I had at my disposal. Working off a MacBook, with an iPad, and iPhone six I was able to go online and seamlessly share information and data between multiple machines.
Have all of the peripherals you need for Plan B as well as your normal Plan A. When my computer crashed I had to rush out to buy the adapters.  If it had happened in a foreign city, where I didn’t have access to transport and support stores, recovery would have been more complicated. If you have a plan B make sure that the peripherals you carry are for your recovery option as well as your normal delivery.
For critical delivery items it might even be worth having a Plan C. If for some reason my Apple devices had not worked, the content I could access was not formatted for a  Windows PC. For key content, I’m now uploading additional Windows compatible versions to the cloud. In future, if I’m ever in a situation where none of my own technology works, I will be able to rely on the support and technology available at the client’s site.
At TomorowToday we often speak about the value of learning from failure. The central value of failure lies in my failure becoming a lesson that you benefit from. Based on my painful and traumatic few hours you can benefit from my experience, and if you are going to make any mistakes in this area, they can be new mistakes that are uniquely your’s and not a rehash of the school fees I’ve already paid.

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