This is a very difficult blog for me to write and it pains me to do so, but some of you have been with me for several years now so I feel able to confide in you.
I’m devastated. And the reason is one that I never even considered. Unthinkable as it may seem, Mrs Oz failed to spot at least three typos in my last blog. Which is a sentence I never thought I’d write.
In fairness, I should have spotted them myself. I am, after all, one of the most particular people I know (see ‘Reading and writing‘ and ‘Good enough?‘). Some people might use the word ‘pedantic’ but I much prefer ‘meticulous’ or ‘precise’ or ‘attention to detail’. Mrs Oz, however, is in a league of her own. From a proof-reading point of view, she is second to none, as evidenced by the fact that my various reports, which she diligently proof-reads before they’re issued, despite me having already proof-read them several times, usually come back to me covered in notes highlighting the tiniest typos or punctuation misdemeanours. When I was preparing to publish my first two books she spotted several typos that the ‘professional’ proof readers employed by my publishers failed to notice. I rest my case.
At this point I should come clean and confess that it wasn’t actually Mrs Oz’s fault, rather it was something of a misunderstanding. Because although she read the penultimate draft of my blog, she didn’t proof-read it, as she was expecting me to tell her when I felt it was ready to publish. But because she pointed out a couple of typos I mistakenly assumed she had proof-read it. OK, I admit it, despite my overly dramatic opening lines, it was more my fault than hers.
I suspect that many of you are wondering what this has to do with business continuity management. Well, there are a couple of really quite important things, actually.
Firstly, I’ll grudgingly concede that, despite my inner pedant twitching at the thought, a few typos aren’t actually the end of the world. But I’ve seen too many business continuity plans in my time that contain far more significant errors – like, for instance, gaping holes in the strategy; or an obvious mismatch between the organisation’s continuity capability and what it actually needs; or a bunch of assumptions that are plainly nonsense.
Secondly, when you’ve said something in public, especially if the vehicle for saying it is the media – whether social or ‘traditional’ – it’s out there. This is particularly relevant to our crisis communications. Because once you’ve said it you’ve said it and, whilst you can subsequently try and retract or correct it if it wasn’t quite right, as often as not a) you won’t succeed and b) the damage has probably already been done. There are plenty of examples of erroneous or unguarded comments that have caused the organisation in question a huge amount of grief. I’m sure you have your own favourites. I certainly do, although I won’t embarrass the guilty or risk litigation by ridiculing them here.
In terms of my own grammatical or typographical indiscretions, all I can do is fall on my sword and apologise profusely. I did correct my mistakes as soon as they came to light (Mrs Oz pointed them out almost immediately after I’d published the offending blog, which was scant comfort to say the least), but it was too late for those of you who subscribe to receive my blogs via e-mail and, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, receive said e-mail a nanosecond after I’ve pressed the ‘publish’ button.
If anyone spotted the typos, if you post a comment or send me an e-mail telling me what they were I’ll send you a freebie copy of ‘Ski Boots and Celery – a Compilation of Oz’s Business Continuity Blogs’ by way of penance. In which case, I’ll be delighted to welcome you to the ‘attention to detail’ club!
PS Mrs Oz has actually proof-read this blog, so I’ll be mightily surprised if there are any typos in it. If you do spot any, however, in the interests of domestic bliss, I’d appreciate it if, on this occasion, you’ll keep it to yourself.
Agree? Disagree? Want to share your own thoughts or opinions?
Leave a reply (below) and let me know what you think.
Andy Osborne (known as Oz to friends and colleagues) is the Consultancy Director at Acumen, a consultancy practice specialising in business continuity and risk management.
Andy is the author of the books ‘Practical Business Continuity Management‘, ‘Risk Management Simplified‘ and ‘Ski Boots and Celery – A Compilation of Oz’s Business Continuity Blogs‘, as well as his popular blogs and ‘Tips of the Month’, all of which aim to demystify the subjects of business continuity and risk management and make them more accessible to people who live in the real world.
You can follow Andy on Twitter at @AndyatAcumen and link with him on LinkedIn at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/andyosborneatacumen