Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes–But Some Do

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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 under performing 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.

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