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TECH TALK: When Bad Things Happen: Thursday Tale

January 29th, 2007 · No Comments

Last Thursday, an Indian telecom operator inexplicably and without warning to us cut off our connection on the grounds (as we were told later) that we were causing harm to their revenue streams. For now, the details are not important. Suddenly, a service we had live become inaccessible to a large number of people. We had no Plan B. We were caught off-guard. We had given only passing thought to such an eventuality and here was reality staring at us in the face. It was a difficult day compounded by the fact that we were going into a long weekend and if services were not restored by end of the day, we would be facing a long period of downtime.

As I sat through making phone calls trying to understand what had happened, and what our options were, my mind went back to a number of such events that I had experienced over the past twelve years as an entrepreneur. Bad things happen. Even if one is trying to do good! Most entrepreneurs are too optimistic to think about these eventualities and tend not to have any fallback options. They assume that everyone plays fair.

It was a long and difficult day. I had come in with a set of things to do and a few people to meet. All of that went out of the window as the day progressed and the crisis showed no sign of abating. My cabin became a sort of war room as we tried to figure out how to get back our status quo. I talked to a few friends and well-wishers trying to get their inputs. Within the office, a few of us debated various alternatives. It is amazing how a Bad Thing can get the adrenalin flowing.

Amidst all this, I tried to keep calm. I had seen this before. Every Bad Event has an End. In this case, I wasnt sure when that would come. Time was running out for us. And, almost as suddenly as our service was blocked, it was restored later in the day. We were glad about it, but still left searching for answers. Would it happen again? Was this a planned move to shake us? Or warn us? Or show us who the Big Boss was? Plenty of questions, but few answers as I write this out.

My intention in discussing this is not to talk about what we did wrong. That is a separate story. The point is to discuss, from an entrepreneurs perspective, how one needs to be prepared for Bad Things. These will happen thats a given. And they will happen when one is least expecting it. How should Bad Things be handled, and how can they be metamorphosed into Good Endings?

Tomorrow: Connection Cut

Tags: Tech Talk