Super Blackout!

It's a given that every Super Bowl will end with the elation of one team and the heartbreak of another.

But this year, nobody's heart sank more than Doug Thornton's.

Mr. Thornton is neither a veteran 49-ers player nor a long-lost Harbaugh brother. In fact, he wasn't even on the field.

No, Doug Thornton was the guy sitting in the control station in the stadium seeing his life flash before his eyes when the lights went out. For all of the game's dramatic flourishes and exciting plays, it's entirely possible that nothing about Super Bowl XLVII will be remembered more than the 33 minutes spent in the dark.

"I couldn't believe it, to be honest with you," Thornton, the stadium manager, told USA Today a day later. "It's pretty disappointing because it played out on a worldwide stage."

A Very Bad Day

It's a good bet that every person who watched the drama did so with the thankful relief of, "I'm so glad that's not me." But every one of us has been there.

OK, maybe (hopefully) not on such an epic scale. But the dread of even a small wrinkle at the workplace can cause chills. Think about it: what gives you the heebie jeebies? Hearing a critical deliverable went undelivered because the person in charge couldn't show up? It's safe to say that in your typical organization, fear of losing a client or missing a huge deadline because people weren't able to be where they were supposed to be looms just as ominously as an unplanned power failure at a nationwide event.

Whatever caused the unwelcome Super Bowl moment is still being debated. What's certain is that they would have avoided it if they could. Wouldn't we all? And you can bet that every stadium manager from Boston to Los Angeles will move heaven and earth to make sure it doesn't happen again. Mantras like "be prepared" and "an ounce of prevention" are lodged in the public consciousness for a reason.

Ensuring Your Organizational Operations Are Protected

For the rest of us, avoiding those mishaps that cause very bad days means ensuring your organizational operations are protected. And that means knowing your people can be where they need to be, that they can deliver on expectations, and that they're able to keep focused on the play at hand. It's simple enough: organizations with people who show up have better bottom lines.

So knowing to the extent that it's humanly possible that everyone's in place - that your sales people are making big calls and not hampered by a child care emergency; that your IT manager is getting your site back up and not stuck in traffic between work and the child care center; or that your finance director is fully focused on quarter-end spreadsheets and not completely distracted by the task of helping her college-bound daughter figure out what the heck a FAFSA form is - is better than the pound of cure spent on post-error clean up.

When it's all said and done, it may well be the difference between a championship performance...

And being left sitting in the dark.    
Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands

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