How to correct a ‘Serial Error-Prone’?

Last week, our Computer Science Department hosted a guest speaker. The speaker is a Chief Cyber Security at one of the biggest laboratories in the nation.  His presentation was very interesting and useful. He told us a funny story that I am going to share with you. But it is not the story itself that I find worth sharing it is what he said at the end of the story.

So, one of the employees received an email with a web address, also known as a URL link. After he clicked on the link the institute ended up being off the grid for two weeks. They had to go off line because of the sensitivity of the research this big national institute is working on.

After two weeks of hard work making sure their data and network is secure they went online again. Of course before going online all employees were told not to click on URL links because it may be linked to a malware (malicious code). For extra security they edited URL addresses received via email by replacing “tt” with “xx” in http. So, when someone clicks on “hxxp://CNN.com” it will show a broken link.

The speaker told us that new employees are trained about safety of using the internet and emails and how they should be cautious about email attachments and clicking on URL links. So, it was funny when he told us that the same person who caused the two weeks shut down of the internet in their organization did it again. The same person, received an email with a URL but since clicking on the link doesn’t work he copied the address and changed the “xx” to “tt”. Viola! Smart huh?

The audience laughed when the speaker called the person “Serial Clicker.” He said “we train our employees and send emails about not clicking on URL links but some people out there are serial clicker.”

I doubt the story is fully true but I think it might be based on an incident that happened in this organization or another institution. Regardless, I have to commend on our speaker’s ability not to make his audience bored.

Anyway, here is what he said that made me thinking. He said “I don’t think the ‘serial clicker’ is only to blame. We train people we tell them not to click on the links but they still do. There has to be something wrong with our training. Everyone knows that if you do the same thing you will get the same result.”

I find Americans, or to be more accurate,  I find some Americans to be very mature when it comes to admitting wrong doing or thinking out of the box. I might be wrong but in the short period I worked in Jordan I can’t say that I can imagine a Jordanian boss would say something similar to the quote above. The boss shares the blame even when he knows that the employee is very wrong.

One might say they should fire this stupid employee. If this story is true as it is told I am sure they did. But this speaker is thinking ahead. He knows they will always be people who will make the same mistake again and again even after one shows them the correct way to do it many times.

As a teacher I can relate to this. Many times, I find few students in my class repeat the same mistake again and again no matter how many times I say not to. People think and analyze differently so we have to be more creative in the way we teach or approach a dead end in a discussion.

So, the next time you find someone repeats the same mistake again and again and you do care about him maybe it is time for you to think of another approach or way to correct his behavior. According to the author of “buy.ology” warning labels on cigarette packs have no effect on suppressing the number of smokers.

“Warning labels on the sides, fronts, and backs of cigarette packs had no effect on suppressing the smokers’ cravings at all. Zero. In other words, all those gruesome photographs, government regulations, billions of dollars some 123 countries had invested in nonsmoking campaigns, all amounted, at the end of a day, to, well, a big waste of money.”  [NPR]

There are so many examples of the ineffective warning labels on cigarette packs. A very critical one is the way we try to solve the Arab World problems. We forgot the principle rule “if you do what you have always done you will get what you have always gotten.”  It is time to change but it should be done wisely.


2 thoughts on “How to correct a ‘Serial Error-Prone’?

    1. Not addressing one subject or one country in particular but in general, and at different levels from individuals to governments.
      I do like and hope to see the Arab world among the developing industrial countries not just a consumer.


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