System Error

99% of learning happens when one adjusts their actions according to feedback. When this airway is blocked, situation can hardly ever improve. And the biggest reason for evading and resisting investigating and learning from errors, is a tendency to take it personally.

As opposed to “take it systematically”.

Health care system is a pretty good example.

There’s a certain chance of error in surgeries, just like any other professions. However, since our culture believes that “surgeons are not supposed to make mistakes”, when they do, their own personal reputation is on the line. Doctors are not intentionally inventing reasons for an accident to pull the wool over the eyes of their patients, yet, a series of euphemisms are generally deployed to explain them away –“technical error,” “complication,” “unanticipated outcome”–each of which contains an element of truth, but none of which provides the whole truth. [1] As a result, rarely is an error closely examined, nor are corrections of similar mistakes likely to happen.

Aviation, on the other hand, is a drastic contrast.

The airline industry comes with independent bodies specifically designed to investigate crashes. Everyone understands that even if a plane crashes because of one co-pilot’s failure of communication, it’s the system failing them, not them failing the system. More specifically, people understand that psychological causes of errors is just as legitimate a system error as an engineering error in plane design.

And the same attitude could be applied anywhere:

  • When one can’t muster up the willpower to go to the gym, it’s because it’s not fun enough. It’s not about the willpower. It’s never about the willpower. Find a physical activity that is. Like pokemon hatching :>
  • When a physician is too tired to not make mistakes in operations, it’s the system that needs improving, not their personal work life balance.
  • When sales people can’t keep their friendship with each other pure and innocent, it’s the system making them compete with each other, not that they’re bad people. Which, is one of the big reasons I decided to go into programming in the first place: people need to work with each other to accomplish awesomeness; when my work is great, everyone does better. It’s the system encouraging cooperation, not that I’m naturally too nice.
  • When the majority of school kids don’t consider learning and exploring as fun, it’s the education system failing them, not the other way round.

My point: create a system that makes it easy and natural for people to do the fun and the good. When mistakes happen, take this approach.

It is possible. And fascinating.