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Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never…
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Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes--But Some Do (edition 2015)

by Matthew Syed (Author)

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4451055,881 (4.06)1
Nobody wants to fail. But in highly complex organizations, success can happen only when we confront our mistakes, learn from our own version of a black box, and create a climate where it's safe to fail.  We all have to endure failure from time to time, whether it's underperforming at a job interview, flunking an exam, or losing a pickup basketball game. But for people working in safety-critical industries, getting it wrong can have deadly consequences. Consider the shocking fact that preventable medical error is the third-biggest killer in the United States, causing more than 400,000 deaths every year. More people die from mistakes made by doctors and hospitals than from traffic accidents. And most of those mistakes are never made public, because of malpractice settlements with nondisclosure clauses. For a dramatically different approach to failure, look at aviation. Every passenger aircraft in the world is equipped with an almost indestructible black box. Whenever there's any sort of mishap, major or minor, the box is opened, the data is analyzed, and experts figure out exactly what went wrong. Then the facts are published and procedures are changed, so that the same mistakes won't happen again. By applying this method in recent decades, the industry has created an astonishingly good safety record. Few of us put lives at risk in our daily work as surgeons and pilots do, but we all have a strong interest in avoiding predictable and preventable errors. So why don't we all embrace the aviation approach to failure rather than the health-care approach? As Matthew Syed shows in this eye-opening book, the answer is rooted in human psychology and organizational culture. Syed argues that the most important determinant of success in any field is an acknowledgment of failure and a willingness to engage with it. Yet most of us are stuck in a relationship with failure that impedes progress, halts innovation, and damages our careers and personal lives. We rarely acknowledge or learn from failure--even though we often claim the opposite. We think we have 20/20 hindsight, but our vision is usually fuzzy. Syed draws on a wide range of sources--from anthropology and psychology to history and complexity theory--to explore the subtle but predictable patterns of human error and our defensive responses to error. He also shares fascinating stories of individuals and organizations that have successfully embraced a black box approach to improvement, such as David Beckham, the Mercedes F1 team, and Dropbox.… (more)
Member:muwaffaq
Title:Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes--But Some Do
Authors:Matthew Syed (Author)
Info:Portfolio (2015), Edition: 1, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes--But Some Do by Matthew Syed

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English (9)  Dutch (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I’ve read a few books like this lately, partly because there is a crossover with my day job, but mostly because I like ideas. This was definitely the best. It’s an extremely well written and engrossing examination of a simple concept, that failure is valuable because it helps us get better. Unlike some other similar books it never felt like it outlived it’s welcome. The examples used to illustrate the point were well chosen and often grippingly relayed. I was surprised at what a page turner ‘Black Box Thinking’ could be, and also that it moved me deeply at times.
In summary then, this is intellectually stimulating, great fun to read and full of insight. I loved it. ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
4.5 stars

Years ago I joked that my new year's resolution would be "Make more mistakes" meaning that I would be pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and trying new things. This book pushes the idea one step further. Make more "mistakes" and learn from them.We should learn from the aviation industry which uses their black boxes to learn from their mistakes.

I got queasy from the stories of mistakes in the medical field leading to death. I got even more queasy reading the length the medical world would cover up their mistakes. Well, Matthew also shows when investors, judges, and corporate leaders also cover up their mistakes in the face of strong evidence.




( )
  wellington299 | Feb 19, 2022 |
Good read. Certainly has a military bent but great application of the idea. Accurate recording of your errors is so core to making good mistakes. Recommended. ( )
  rickycatto | Sep 9, 2020 |
What a great book. How to improve systems and reduce error rates. This is a synthesis of many of my favourite books. As an entrepreneur and serial self-improver I love the insights this book gives ( )
  muwaffaq | Mar 20, 2019 |
Easy to read and interesting although most of the "insights" are nothing new. Like most of these business self-help books there's lots of "shouding" but no actual guidance on how to do these things. I work in health - I know. People in the SAME organisation don't know what other improvements are being made, never mind what other organisations are doing. ( )
  infjsarah | Jul 15, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Matthew Syedprimary authorall editionscalculated
Frank, RobertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Slater, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Nobody wants to fail. But in highly complex organizations, success can happen only when we confront our mistakes, learn from our own version of a black box, and create a climate where it's safe to fail.  We all have to endure failure from time to time, whether it's underperforming at a job interview, flunking an exam, or losing a pickup basketball game. But for people working in safety-critical industries, getting it wrong can have deadly consequences. Consider the shocking fact that preventable medical error is the third-biggest killer in the United States, causing more than 400,000 deaths every year. More people die from mistakes made by doctors and hospitals than from traffic accidents. And most of those mistakes are never made public, because of malpractice settlements with nondisclosure clauses. For a dramatically different approach to failure, look at aviation. Every passenger aircraft in the world is equipped with an almost indestructible black box. Whenever there's any sort of mishap, major or minor, the box is opened, the data is analyzed, and experts figure out exactly what went wrong. Then the facts are published and procedures are changed, so that the same mistakes won't happen again. By applying this method in recent decades, the industry has created an astonishingly good safety record. Few of us put lives at risk in our daily work as surgeons and pilots do, but we all have a strong interest in avoiding predictable and preventable errors. So why don't we all embrace the aviation approach to failure rather than the health-care approach? As Matthew Syed shows in this eye-opening book, the answer is rooted in human psychology and organizational culture. Syed argues that the most important determinant of success in any field is an acknowledgment of failure and a willingness to engage with it. Yet most of us are stuck in a relationship with failure that impedes progress, halts innovation, and damages our careers and personal lives. We rarely acknowledge or learn from failure--even though we often claim the opposite. We think we have 20/20 hindsight, but our vision is usually fuzzy. Syed draws on a wide range of sources--from anthropology and psychology to history and complexity theory--to explore the subtle but predictable patterns of human error and our defensive responses to error. He also shares fascinating stories of individuals and organizations that have successfully embraced a black box approach to improvement, such as David Beckham, the Mercedes F1 team, and Dropbox.

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