Silly Little Mistakes

Doh“Silly little mistakes add up.”

When our kids were in grade school, that’s how my wife and I impressed upon them the need to double (and triple) check their tests and school assignments before submitting them.

Silly little mistakes reveal gaps in our thoughtfulness.  They are places where we give back points for no purposeful reason.  Each is (at best) a nugget of carelessness and (at worst) an unconditional moment of surrender.

Over time we develop systems and habits to protect ourselves:

  • to fully read the instructions,
  • to count the number of questions – and compare that to the number of answers,
  • to look to see if the assignment continues on the back of the page,
  • to reverse calculate math problems, to make sure they add back up,
  • to proofread,
  • to bring home the right book from which to study.


This past Friday at 5:30 pm, my daughter (now a college student) and I decided to attend that evening’s performance for a well-reviewed show at a professional theatre company, located about a half-hour’s drive from our home.  Our only two questions:

  • What time is the performance?
  • Are there still tickets available?

The theatre company’s website prominently announced that this is the final weekend of the production.  The website helpfully explained what the show was about, provided compelling video and appropriately advised us of mature content.

For specific information about performance dates/times, we clicked the “Buy Tickets” link.

And that’s where we fell into the gap  of their silly little mistake.

Because the on-line sales for that show had already been disabled, the ticket-buying page provided no information whatsoever for that night’s performance.  (Tangential question:  in a world in which EBAY can process highly competitive transactions up to the very last nano-second, why can’t theatre companies sell on-line tickets right up to the start of the show?)

Without a link to purchase a ticket, the site offered absolutely no way to confirm that there actually WAS a performance scheduled for that night, no way to ascertain the show time and no way to confirm the availability of tickets.  Dead end.

So, I tried phoning the box office.  Closed.  Cheerful, but unhelpful recorded message.  Dead end.

I wonder how many potential last-minute ticket buyers they lost as a result.

(Thankfully, the show’s director is a Facebook friend and he quickly responded by my question.  Easy for me, but that’s really NOT the solution that should be expected of the common audience member.  Oh, and by the way, we thoroughly LOVED the performance!)  

Once identified, such silly little mistakes are pretty easy to fix.

In this case, imagine an on-line and/or voice-mail message that states (as appropriate):  “On-Line tickets are no longer available for purchase, but there’s still room for you at tonight’s 7:30 pm performance!”

CODA:  On Saturday, I wrote to the company’s Managing Director and within 20-minutes received his appreciative reply in which he advised that his team is already working to address the challenge.  Such a prompt & helpful response relieves ANY & ALL frustration – and instills even GREATER confidence for my NEXT experience with that company!

We all make silly little mistakes.

What’s most important is that having been identified, we promptly fix them.

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  1. Emily Sojourn says

    Forgive me, but this seems to be more of a vent concerning an inconvenience than a thoughtful thesis.

    What was the point of this posting?

    • says

      The point is this: A chain is no stronger than its weakest link.

      All the time, effort & resources that your company dedicates to its marketing can be completely undermined by one little “gap” in your process. That point is what I call a “silly little mistake.” My hope is that, today, everyone who reads this post will search out & correct one of their own.

  2. says

    Matt, Thanks for this post. I will be sharing it on my Facebook page for members of my theatrical community to see. I’ve experienced this frustration too, and I’ve solved the problem the same way you did. As you point out though, that won’t work for the average theatre-goer. Years ago someone gave me the business advice, “Make it easy for people to give you their money.” If our audiences can’t find the info they need, they aren’t likely to show up and give us their money!