I posted this on BizPhyZ.com but wanted my readers here to see it….
Murphy’s Law: Anything that CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong.
Let’s talk about this. Most people take Murphy’s Law too lightly. They see it as a sort of humorous expression about failure. But it’s a lot more serious than that. So let’s look at the physics behind Murphy’s Law and then I’ll introduce you to Reich’s Law of Success.
Look carefully at the words that make up Murphy’s Law. Anything that CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong. The two words CAN and WILL are what make Murphy’s statement a ‘law’.
Things will only go wrong if they can. This seems painfully obvious on the surface but a closer look reveals a very deep principle. We tend to add a luck factor when we use the phrase “Murphy’s Law”. People use it almost as “just my luck”. But luck has no part in Murphy’s Law. Understand this principle and you are well on your way to solving many, many business problems.
Luck has no part in Murphy’s Law because, for something to go wrong, it must first be possible. And, if possible, it will then happen. Planning a vacation in June and then spending a week inside because of rain, isn’t Murphy’s Law in action. That’s bad luck. If it’s cloudy with a 100% chance of rain on a given day, it will rain regardless of luck unless something happens which make it impossible for it to rain—a strong wind blows away the clouds perhaps. Picking a sunny day far in advance involves luck. When the day arrives, the weather is a product of factors having nothing to do with luck.
Let’s clarify. Imagine a string capable of supporting 10 pounds. If we suspend 9 pounds from that string, it will not break. It cannot break. If we suspend a weight of 10 pounds and 1 ounce from that string, it will break. It must break because that string can only support 10 pounds. We cannot get lucky and see our string support just a little more than 10 pounds. It CANnot.
Suspending a 10 pound, 1 ounce weight from that string will break the string no matter how lucky we are. THAT is Murphy’s Law.
Things get complicated because we are usually dealing with many, many variables or parts. And, most parts are built to tolerances not exact breaking points. Our string, for example, may be rated to support up to 12 pounds. The manufacturer might make the string capable of supporting 14 pounds but he gives the string a 12 pound rating. We are not lucky if the strings can hold 13 pounds. It does it because it can.
Our string becomes weaker with wear, use and entropy. Eventually, it may break at 6 pounds because of wear. But, it will only break at 6 pounds because it CAN, not by chance.
So if you look for things that can go wrong at your business by asking ‘what if’ type questions, you can prevent many of the things that frequently go wrong. What if the engine that drives our conveyor belt fails on the day we need to complete our most important order? What if our ‘shipping guy’ is sick on the day our big order needs to go out? You can easily think of solutions to these problems. Thinking ahead can prevent most big problems.
It takes skill to learn the questions, but the answers are always easy. As you practice, you will develop the skill. People tell me I seem to be able to see the future! No, I see what is possible, what can happen. And what can happen, will and does happen.
If you do not think about this, your business will struggle. And it will always struggle. But if you begin to ask the questions, see what can happen and then change the ‘tolerances’, less will go wrong. Less wrong is better.
So let’s say you do this and things get better. If you constantly reduce what can go wrong, your business will do okay.
Look, when you consider the high failure rate of businesses, doing okay is pretty good and it sure beats struggling. Right?
Now, if you make improvements, real innovations at your business thing will go well. Constantly seek ways to improve your product and your service AFTER getting good at defeating Murphy and you will see things go well.
And if you want to do very well? Wildly well?
Luck. Study ANY outlandish success story, any, and you will see that really extraordinary success comes from luck. Always. No matter how much credit people take for their bright ideas, luck was the real determining factor of huge success. Study their stories closely and you will always find the lucky break.
But that’s okay. Because few people take the steps to be in the position to be lucky! If you don’t buy a lottery ticket, you cannot be lucky enough to win the lottery.
To get in line for that lucky break, use Reich’s Law:
“Look for things that can go wrong and change them so they can’t go wrong and you will do okay. Improve everything you can all the time. Never, ever stop improving and you will do well, maybe very well. Do these in order and keep doing them and you may get a very lucky break.”
Shortcut these steps and you won’t get that lucky break. The big one, huge success break will elude you forever. Do them and you just might strike it big.