Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More Tolerance for Mistakes Can Only Increase the Learning Curve

Ten years ago, Congress challenged the airline industry to reduce the number of crashes. The industry not only met the test of their abilities and resources, they exceeded expectations. Better technology assisted those involved but it was their decision to tolerate pilot mistakes that dramatically impacted the statistics which lowered the risk of an airplane crash to a fifth of what it was in the 1990s and increased airline safety.

The industry and regulators are not waiting for crashes to occur. They are taking a proactive approach and encouraging pilots to report their mistakes, and instead of penalizing the pilots as they have done in the past, they are collecting, pooling and analyzing the mistakes reported and are learning what needs to be done to prevent pilots from making those same mistakes again.

This approach of "learning from mistakes" makes more sense than creating an environment of shame for anyone that unintentionally errs resulting from defective judgment, deficient knowledge, or carelessness.

Punishing mistakes only ensures that those same mistakes will be made again and again, whereas realizing that mistakes are unavoidable and it's better to shed light on them and use them as learning tools can literally mean the difference between life and death.

Given my fear of flying, I found this to be excellent news. The Airlines can lose my bags, delay my flights and strip search me all they want as long as their airplanes deliver me to my destination able to walk, talk and most importantly breathe on my own.

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