June 25, 2024

You Get What You Inspect, Not What You Expect

By Paul Daniels

“You get what you inspect, not what you expect.”

I have used and heard this phrase many times over the years. A good example came up at the recent American Institute of Architects trade show in Washington, D.C. A few of us flew in early to ensure our booth was ready for the next day’s setup team.

We always get there ahead of time to verify that all the basics are covered. The carpet, the electricity and all of our crates made it to the booth. We especially wanted to be sure that our overhead sign got installed so we could get right to work setting up the booth with the merchandise.

When we arrived on the show floor and started walking toward the booth, we were pleased to see our sign was already up and in place. All it needed was for the electricity to be connected. After the booth inspection, we found the electricity was not in the correct place on the floor, so we headed for the service desk. While we were there, we asked about getting the sign plugged in. They did not order it, so we put one in and headed out for lunch.

Just as we were finishing lunch, the electricians called. They were at our booth and could not find which side the plug was on so they could electrify the sign. One of us headed back to the booth to help them. When they returned, they told the electricians which corner the plug was on. So, they went up in the boom to plug it in.

When they got up there and looked inside the sign for the plug, they let us know we had a much larger problem: there were no light bulbs in the sign. The LED bulbs were nowhere to be found. We checked the sign crate and the area around the booth with no luck. We went over to the riggers’ desk to ask what happened. They told us that they could not find any light bulbs in the crate, so they “assumed,” another great phase, that since there were no bulbs, we must have decided not to light it up.

In this case, we did not get what we had expected. A new crate had been made to replace the last one that was damaged after the previous show. Somewhere between the crate and the show, we lost the bulbs.  Even though many of us went over and inspected the show before it was shipped, no one checked out the sign crate. A quote from Albert Bandura fits here:

“Where everyone is responsible, no one is really responsible.”

We all know these phrases, but we often take them for granted. Sometimes, paying attention to the basics will save us all a lot of time and aggravation.

By the way, Home Depot came through with 62 60-watt LED ceramic-based bulbs. The riggers and electricians worked to take the sign down, add the bulbs, and get it back up and lit by the end of the day. I am glad we sent a safety crew early to handle these issues, but paying more attention upfront is a better way to go.