Getting accepted to university is one of the most exciting moments in a student’s life. Your heart starts racing the moment you see the email in your inbox and kicks into double-time as your trembling hands work to open it. ‘Congratulations,’ it begins, ‘We are proud to welcome you as part of next year’s student body.’ You show it to your friends, family members, and maybe even (definitely) make a few posts on social media about it.
But then, just a short time later, you receive another email stating one simple sentence that completely reverses (and obliterates) your mood.
“There was an error in the system. Please disregard the previous email.”
This is exactly what happened to an estimated 430 applicants to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. After an official apology was sent out, the cause of the accidental email was linked to human error — the most basic and rudimentary of problems. Apparently, a staff member incorrectly believed that a spreadsheet containing the applicants’ names had already been sorted — those present had all been accepted. They only discovered after the email was sent that the list included a jumble of both accepted and rejected students.
“We apologize to all of the affected students and their families and are taking immediate steps to ensure this never happens again,” the school said in a statement. “We will reach out to every individual student who received the incorrect email to discuss possible pathways for admission to USF St. Petersburg in the future.”
There are three types of human error: slips and lapses, mistakes, and outright violations. Human beings are fallible creatures; it may be impossible to completely eliminate the possibility of those three types, but human error reduction tools can certainly bring the probability of occurrences way down.
Think of your business as the human body: the more you invest in human error prevention training (and the more you commit to developing human error reduction tools), the less likely your chances of getting sick — or making a mistake that affects hundreds of individuals.