On the way into work today on interstate 4, I swerved over a lane to avoid the CHP chasing a cow. It was a little baby cow (I'm sure they have their own term), but I could still imagine it embedded in my crumple zones if things went south. That got me thinking about my theory on major screw ups. It's a simple theory: it takes three things to seriously screw up. It's usually a condition, an event and something else. For example, bald tires, rain and not paying attention. You can have rain and bald tires if you watch the road like a hawk. You can get away with two out of three things, but that third thing can kill you.
Whenever I hear about something like a plane crash or bizarre accident, I try to figure out those three things. Maybe it's just a superstition, but it seems to work for me. In my own life, I try to watch for those two our of three so I can visualize the potential threat. The theory works in business too. Customers are automatically that third factor. If it's possible to hurt yourself on something, a customer will find a way. If you have a wet floor and no sign, they will fall automatically. It's a given. If there's an opportunity to steal something, eventually that person will come in and use that vulnerability. It's not a question of what are the chances, it's a question of when.
Things like finance are important to watch too. The economy is that third factor. For example, if you don't have a reserve fund or ready capital, and the economy goes south, you're at risk for all kinds of bad events if just one thing goes wrong, like when customers suddenly stop playing your top game.