Learning from failure: the systems approach
"Its fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. How a company deals with mistakes suggests how well it will bring out the best ideas and talents of its people and how effectively it will respond to change." Bill Gates of Microsoft in his syndicated newspaper column, April 1995.
Learning from Failure—The Systems Approach provides a way of drawing out these lessons. Joyce Fortune and Geoff Peters research into how the failures in organizations can be best understood extends over twenty years and their observations and conclusions have been well tested. This book shows that understanding can also lead to prevention. It aims to raise the study of failure to a point where experiences and lessons learnt are openly discussed as positive achievements rather than dark secrets. The Systems Failures Method, which is at the core of this book, is designed to focus systems thinking to the specifics of understanding failure. Major disasters and smaller failures could be prevented using systems thinking because it is uniquely suited to the task of avoiding failure. The Systems Failures Method has now been applied by well over 1000 people in a wide range of situations. Cases used in this book include the gas leak at a chemical plant in Bhopal, India, and the failure of electronic medical records in the health care systems of the UK, Canada and the USA. The challenge for those in business is to start using failure as a trigger for organizational learning. This book will help them