Do you have a healthy and empowering attitude to failure?

Radio 4’s Start the Week this morning had an interesting discussion around risk, implementing policy and failure. Mathew Syed, the author of Black Box Thinking was illustrating how the aviation industry looks so closely at what goes wrong where as in healthcare we don’t. His examples included the fact that pilots report near misses whilst clinicians don’t. The result he claimed was that, in the US, preventable medical errors are the third biggest killer!

This view of the world was contrasted by the former minister of state for universities, David Willets, arguing about the importance of story, the narrative that makes policy believable. As a result, do we ever get policies that we can really test for being effective or not, and does the political environment enable us to be open enough to learn.

The fact is the world is so more complex and connected that it used to be and we can no longer rely on gut instinct for our decision making. Having an open culture and learning from our mistakes is part of what allows us to progress, succeed and develop new knowledge.

Some really good examples of what lies at the heart of the current debate of how we use data and information in our decision making and why often it doesn’t work.

Mike Bourne

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