What’s common to NASA’s Challenger and Columbia disasters, Toyota’s recall crisis in 2010 and the sinking of the Titanic? All of them could have been avoided if the companies had learnt from previous failures, according to new research published in Elsevier’s journal Safety Science.
Researchers at the University of Portsmouth, in the UK, have studied a series of reported disasters to answer some key questions about the performance of companies and institutions: “Why do failures happen? Are organizations really learning from failures? And in the context of a failure, how is learning realized?”
Analyzing some incidents occurred among companies such as NASA, BP and Toyota, the authors of the study have concluded that these disasters are caused by an “inflated degree of confidence”, and that “organizations learn more effectively from failures than from successes.”
“A lack of failure can lead to over-confidence and ‘blindness’ to the possibility of problems,” said Prof Ashraf Labib, co-author of the study. “Some managers and organizations see their role as akin to re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, but disasters, when you study them, are often built on futile exercises that don’t help avoid problems.”
The study presents 10 generic lessons that “can help organizations, and managers, to understand reasons for failures.” These lessons are:
In order to learn more about these tools and the author’s conclusions, check the paper at the link provided below.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Labib, A., & Read, M. (2013). Not just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic: Learning from failures through Risk and Reliability Analysis Safety Science, 51 (1), 397-413 DOI: 10.1016/j.ssci.2012.08.014