Learning from failure: the systems approach

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Wiley, Nov 9, 1995 - Business & Economics - 262 pages
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"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

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About the author (1995)

Dr Joyce Fortune is a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Technology Management Department at the Open University. Her teaching and research interests include systems failures, quality management and technology strategy. Her most recent papers have covered a wide range of topics including risk in project management, human rights and ethical policing, emergence and systems approaches to failure. This is her third book on systems failures.

Professor Geoff Peters is Professor of Systems Strategy at the Open University and Chairman of UKERNA Ltd, the company that manages JANET, the UK's academic and research network. His main research interests are failure in complex human systems and change in higher education systems. He has edited and authored books on system failures, systems behaviour, corporate universities and the works of Sir Geoffrey Vickers.