One weak link can break even the strongest chains – Achilees Heels
The concept of this particular case study relates to what we called achilees heels. This relates to the very small control deficiency in any system which sometimes is dismissed as a very immaterial deficiency and not much care is taken about that. So, what happened was that there was a very large entertainment center which had many different kinds of rides like a giant wheel ride, merry- go-round and different kinds of kid’s and adult rides which were very expensive as well. For all these rides there was a central cashier who would issue a coupon to a person tending to take a ride and that person would take the coupon and show the coupon to the attendant on the ride he wanted and he could go and take a ride inside. Now, what happened was, one day this cashier’s printer which was used outside in this particular entertainment center somehow stopped working and the management had to replace the printer and it so happened that one of the smaller food eateries which was there in the mall also closed down at about the same time and they had a spare printer over there, so the management felt that there is no need to spend for an extra printer and transfer that printer from the eatery to the gaming center which was outside in the yard. When they did that, they did not realise that there was a very small difference between the printer that was being used outside in the gaming center for issuing coupons and the printer which was being used in the eatery for the purpose of making sales to customers who came and ate over there. As anybody would understand, in any place which is either a restaurant or an eatery or a food outlet, apart from the bill which is given to the customer, there would be a one for the accounts and there would be one copy for the kitchen order ticket which is used by the chef because he needs to know which are the items which are asked for and he has his own control on the food items that are dispatched and sold outside. So there are three copies of the receipts that are issued in a restaurant. When this printer was transferred outside, the management did not realise that it was capable of printing three copies at a time, three identical copies which were to be used for ride sales. When the cashier saw this, he found out that this could help him make a fortune. So what he did was that he started using the extra coupon that was automatically generated by the printer and he started making those sales and keeping the cash himself wherever the customer did not use the credit card. That cash he kept for himself as the ticket was not separately accounted for as a third copy. In this way, from the month in which the new printer was introduced at the gaming centre, collections fell down steeply by about 30 to 35%. Nearly 6 to 8 months later, did the management realise what was happening and that too by accident, when a customer complained about some other thing. That’s when the management matched the ticket and found that the ticket was the third copy of the original ticket being issued.
So, friends, this is a very important point that sometimes there is a very small issue in a big robust system, but as they say no chain is stronger than its weakest link. In this way the smallest weakness, if there is one, is noticed, once must address it and take appropriate precautions.