The Product of Poor Data Quality: Valuable Products?

Whether your are new to the discipline of Data Quality or an old pro, you’ll likely have heard, over-and-over, that poor data quality leads to an overall poor value of the data and ultimately poor decision making. This is certainly a good point and I have no argument with it. I would like to point out, however, that there have been times when poor data quality, mistakes, and little quality assurance has led to quite valuable products. Submitted solely for your entertainment, here are some examples of the high value of poor quality.

Bible Printing Errors

Humans have had centuries to mess this up and they’ve certainly used this time to make some humorous mistakes. Considering that the text of the Bible is the main product, glaring mistakes such as these are evidence that they didn’t have a handle of their data!

  • The dubbed “Wicked Bible”, printed in 1631, omitted the word ‘not’ from the 7th Commandment, and thus it read “Thou shalt commit adultery”. The Bibles were recalled, the printer was fined $400 for the mistake (a lifetime’s wage), and only 11 copies remain today. Current value – $90,000.
  • The “Murderer’s Bible” declared “Let the Children be killed” instead of “Let the Children be filled”.
  • The “Sin On” Bible reads “Go and sin on more” rather than “Go and sin no more”.

Baseball Card Printing Errors

Baseball cards are no longer the staple toy for young boys that they used to be. Still, it appears that the most valuable cards are the ones that have mistakes (or, for some other reason, are extremely rare). Like the Bible examples above, whats printed on the card is the product – so these companies have a lot of work to do to get their product in shape. It isn’t just older cards that have errors, it seems the new batches have just as many mistakes. Here are some of the most interesting:

  • On the back of the 1964 Rookie card of Dave Bennent it says “the 19 year old curve baller is just 18 years old”
  • Johnny Lipon’s 1954 Topps card lists his team name as the Baltimore Orioles, he is shown in the big portrait picture wearing a Boston Red Sox hat and the smaller action photo has him wearing a St. Louis Brown hat. Turning the card over to see what team he actually plays for is no help either because the back has him listed with the Chicago White Sox.
  • Claude Raymond is seen to have not ‘zipped up’ in both his 1966 and 1967 baseball cards. The reason for the mistake two years running is likely because of the reuse of an images from the previous year’s photoshoot.

Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing

In a similar vein, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing is a company that promotes risk and failure as they have found that this ultimately leads to innovation. You probably know them as 3M, and you can read their very interesting story here.

I tried to find other examples of where companies have made mistakes that led to valuable and/or collectible products but haven’t found a ton. If you have any fun tid-bits, please share with other readers in the comments!

  1. Sandy
    November 16th, 2007 at 10:08 | #1

    I love the 3M story! The structure they have built to promote innovation is really unique and something that many businesses can learn from.

    Another unique business structure is what Best Buy implemented a few years ago, where employees have no time clock – they work the hours it takes to get the job done. The program was so successful they spun-off the consulting firm CultureRx to teach other organizations how to do it.

  2. December 5th, 2007 at 06:48 | #2

    Also enjoyed that 3M story. Google have copied them allowing staff to work on personal projects and it helps keep innovation in the company. Spinach is another example of bad DQ leading to something good, the mistake with a decimal point that lead to the myth that spinach had heaps of iron lead to the Popeye cartoons.

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