Blog Post About Preventable Errors Felled by Preventable Error
So Monday's blog post was about preventable medical errors – namely errors involving pharmacies giving the wrong meds or wrong doses to patients. That's not rocket science – it's a clearly preventable error. But it's also something to not blame individuals for – it's a matter of fixing processes and systems and creating environments where people can do the highest-quality work.
Ironically, my blog was down for quite a while that afternoon and you may have seen error messages like seen on the left.. Ironically, the downtime was due to what turns out to be a PREVENTABLE ERROR from my hosting company, GoDaddy.
I've been using GoDaddy since 2005. Originally, I started using them for domains and hosting because they were a local Phoenix company (back when I lived there). I've had my share of downtime and server problems over the years, but it's a bit of a pain to switch hosting companies.
But between Monday's downtime and other factors (such as their increasingly tacky Super Bowl ads) — it's just not a company I want to do business with anymore. GoDaddy is cheap – but minding Dr. Deming's advice, I never chose them on the basis of price alone. I'm going to be switching to a new hosting company, one that comes highly recommended by a tech person I trust. It will cost more, but the value will be higher (and defects fewer).
Normally, GoDaddy won't really tell you what the problem was when you have site downtime, nor will they tell you exactly what they fixed. They consider this proprietary information (and I guess if you want to know, get your own servers and your own team).
Yesterday, they “fixed” my initial downtime (caused by a shared database server), but that “fix” meant only the front page of LeanBlog.org was working. Everything else showed a 404 error. But the content was not completely wiped out (I was able to see files and I keep my blog routinely backed up – a lesson learned from previous tech problems.
After calling back to GoDaddy, the tech support person investigated and found out (and surprisingly told me):
- In the course of troubleshooting, they had renamed by .htaccess file (don't worry about this detail if you're not a techie).
- After troubleshooting, the individual “forgot” to set the file back to its original name.
- Since the file was essentially missing, the internet didn't know how to find my blog pages (oops!)
This error was easily corrected – actually it was fixed by Cindy Closkey, the woman who designed and set up my WordPress blog. She managed to find and fix the problem while I was on hold waiting for GoDaddy.
Situations like this make me think – why does somebody forget? Checklists are often used as a means for not forgetting steps (airline pilots and increasingly in the O.R.). I have a checklist I use for my Podcasts, to make sure I don't forget a step.
If there WAS a checklist and it wasn't being followed, then our response should be to ask “why?” Why wasn't it being followed? Lack of training? Was the checklist not sufficient? Was the tech support person under unreasonable time pressure (such as being on a “calls per hour” quota)??
The GoDaddy tech apparently wasn't working off of a checklist – whether one generally exists or not, it wasn't being followed in my case. This was human error and my response, as a customer, wouldn't be to want somebody to be punished or fired. I'd want to know what GoDaddy is doing (or not doing) to prevent that same reoccurrence. They might be doing nothing or they probably wouldn't tell me.
They've lost me as a customer, anyways.