Why failure can be the best thing to happen


Some of the world’s greatest disasters could have been avoided if those behind them had experienced more failure, according to research published this week.

Professor Ashraf Labib

Professor Ashraf Labib

The sinking of the Titanic, the loss of the space shuttles Columbia and Challenger, two BP oil refinery explosions with huge loss of life, and the international recall of more than eight million cars by Toyota all have in common an inflated degree of confidence.

Avoiding over-confidence is among a list of ten ‘tools’ based on the outcome of case studies of high profile disasters designed to help organisations and managers understand reasons for disasters.

The study, by Professor Ashraf Labib and Dr Martin Read, of the University of Portsmouth Business School, is published in the journal of Safety Science.

The report’s authors argue that organisations learn more effectively from failures than from successes, but organisations vary at learning from them…

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