Before you start reading, I want to ask you a question.
I believe there is a correlation between those people who have ‘the growth mindset’, in other words – people who have a genuine desire to learn from mistakes, and the way in which a business can build a robust quality system which delivers very low error rates.
As Matthew Syed points out in his book, Black Box Thinking, there is a huge contrast between the aerospace sector and virtually any other sector. Air travel is instinctively dangerous and yet surprisingly safe, in an environment where the consequences of failure are terrible. Why is that?
If we applied this number to airline safety, it would mean that five thousand of every one million flights would encounter a problem.
Aircraft are incredibly complex, and are designed, built, maintained and operated by people who will make mistakes – so how do planes stay in the sky?
The introduction of the black box on every aircraft provided an objective means of conducting root-cause analysis and research into near misses and crashes. It has driven a culture of safety and improvement which has been championed by industry leadership – holding transparency and honesty as priorities, above all else.
When there has been an incident or near miss leading to procedural, engineering or systemic change, learning has been universally applied across the industry.
For those who have never worked in this environment, the amount of collaboration between competitors, regulators and suppliers base comes as a real surprise. The right culture, and the ability to remove cognitive dissonance from post-event analysis, has made learning from mistakes very powerful.