Dealing with Fatal Flaws

Dealing with Fatal Flaw

From a book I was reading early this morning, the thought galloped on the scene and it will not leave me alone.

Everything has a fatal flaw, you know, a weak link or a thread threatening to unravel that will be the entire undoing of something. Every business, family, or person. Every process, project or plan. Anything that has artificially been manufactured, or brought out of its natural surroundings, flaws exist to be a future surprise at the most inopportune times.

Back in the Y2K days of planning test scenarios for future date testing mainframe applications, every project plan included answers to questions like, “What if you are hit by a Mack Truck, what happens then?” “What if you become incapacitated?” These same kinds of questions come into play every day when we take a vacation, drive to the grocery store, or mow the yard, what happens if the flaw kicks in…

What do you do when the link from start to a successful ending decides it’s time to break?

It’s like Apollo 13’s troubled flight to the moon. The flaw in the system that created a potentially heavy cost to the Space program was something that was done months before it was needed in action. That’s generally the problem with all flaws – they are something done weeks and months ago and only reveal themselves in time of need.

Even Quality Control systems to prevent these flaws from entering the public domain are faulty, full of their own flaws. No new software or hardware is without a flaw! Why? Nothing is perfect! Humans are imperfect! Our thinking is never perfect…

Some flaws are magnified and they make headline news once they reveal themselves. The Titanic disaster was full of flaws, including things repaired so they would never happen again.

In 1975 I worked for Armco Steel for a little while inspecting huge 30-inch diameter, 40-foot long pipes that would be welded into a chain of pipes to move liquids across long distances. My job was to look for flaws – anything that could cause a potential failure on, and in, the pipe. I was part of the Quality Control system! We would mark the flaws, ship it to a repair station to fix the problems. Grinders and welders worked hard on repairing the problems! The one interesting checkpoint was a pressure test checkpoint to ensure the 40-foot long weld would hold. Water would be pumped into a sealed pipe, pressurized to a certain point and if the weld was weak then an explosion of water would mark the failure. Boom! Reject! Recycle!

This brings me to my thought. Sometimes things go along without any issue until the pressure gets applied. Pressure tests us harder and deeper than surface living experiences. When things are going well we can ignore the idiosyncrasies of what look like minor problems. But let the pressure squeeze the moment and those little molehills become mountains!

James writes in his epistle:

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  (James 1:2-4 MSG)

Notice. Pressure from all sides tests your faith like no other time! Your true colors pop! snap! crackle! There may not be time for quality review, but if you always do an “after action” review you can see the problems and answer the questions:

  • What did we do bad? Good?
  • What should we have done differently?
  • What will make it better the next time?

Now. Document it well, put the lessons to work and prepare for a better response the next time! Flaws not addressed now will potentially be the dramatic failure at absolutely the wrong time!