This past week I had the pleasure of correcting someone’s mess, yet again because they didn’t think how their actions would affect other people. This person, we will call Gabe, changed every person’s name, company name, and records on the test site because he was demoing a new feature to a potential client and saw information that a potential client shouldn’t see. The potential client even pointed it out. So Gabe took it upon himself to write a few scripts that would change all that information on this test site to vanilla information.

This change affected 15+ people. People who use this test site daily to code against, test issues, try out processes, etc. All the information that they knew was effectively gone. If they knew a fake user as “Lucy Sails”, she was not “Tommy Tootone”. Records they knew as “Test Record for Ticket #1111” was now “Insurance Policy”. It was a mess. All work stopped and the emails came flooding in. Everyone wanted to know why Gabe did what he did and if it can be reversed.

Thankfully, I was able to restore a backup from the previous day and everything was all good in no time. But the damage was done. A meeting was called, worked stopped, an hour or so gone. I calculated that the company lost $1000 for this action. In the grand scheme of things, $1000 isn’t much for a multimillion dollar company. But that is $1000 that shouldn’t have been wasted if Gabe would have just took a moment to think before acting.

First, he shouldn’t have been using the internal test site to show potential clients. Second, he should have copied the new feature over to one of the seven demo sites that have the latest code. After all that is what they are there for. (There are now two new company policies for the above)

In the end he apologized and admitted that he figured that the change would disrupt a few people. He said that he should have asked at the company meeting if the change was Ok with everyone.

That is the thing to remember, if you think it is going to affect other people and their work. Ask first. If it is a major change, think about what else will have to change. It is better to have a short meeting to discuss the change, figure out the best way of doing whatever than to deal with the blow back. So take a moment to think! When in doubt ask.