Book review: Confronting Mistakes
Jan Hagen. Palgrave Macmillan. €29.99
While mistakes are unavoidable, in most organisations they are rarely thoroughly examined. An exception is the high- risk aviation industry, where experts have established an open and democratic culture for dealing with error. The central idea in this book is that the wider business community could learn from this.
Jan Hagen, an academic at the European School of Management and Technology, Berlin, has a special interest in the way teams and organisations deals with mistakes. A pilot himself, by analysing dra- matic air accidents, he presents a new approach to error- management in business to reveal how diagnostic, error- permissive behaviour is the first step to turning mistakes into learning opportunities.
While the first step has been made, in that most managers accept errors as being a nor- mal part of the work culture, there is still an overwhelming preference for discussing errors in private and involving as few people as possible – a behaviour still associated with shame and embarrassment.
A look at high-risk industries such as aviation shows that professionals in these fields have come to openly accept and analyse errors before elim- inating the causes, Hagen says.