A colleague of mine sent me a link to a BBC article regarding this book several weeks ago. As an patented inventor and product designer I was very intrigued by the title. This is the first book I have read by this author. As I read through its pages, I found Matthew Syed's writing style to be captivating enough to keep my attention while describing events and facts which could otherwise be very dry. For that reason, I am compelled to read his other works, but merely based on the content, I have already recommended this book to dozens of people. The concept of learning from mistakes is as old as recorded history. However, if you think that is what this book is about, think again. There are many nuances to the subject matter disclosed which can be very thought provoking and enlightening. On several occasions I actually put the book down, feeling compelled to rethink dozens of situations in my own life where I have made mistakes, not learned from them and ended up repeating them, stuck in closed loop logic.
My key takeaway from reading this book is that Mr. Syed identifies a well-known flaw in humanity to which some critics at first blush might yawn and say “so what, nothing new here” Failure analysis has been around for centuries. Not exactly… this book covers a lot of ground. The Black Box failure analysis model has only been in use for a very limited amount of time in human history, yielding incredible results in aviation safety used for the benefit of all humanity. Yes, individuals throughout history have used versions of failure analysis to solve issues, either for themselves or for small scale issues. But this recent model transcends others in that it truly eliminates the need or benefit of lying, omitting information or tampering with evidence. By doing so, you only perpetuate a problem which could eventually end up costing you your life or the life of your loved ones. I spoke my friend who is a pilot and Lt. Col in the US Air Force about claims in this book and he confirmed the legitimacy and efficacy of the program, stating that US Military standards are slightly different than commercial aviation, but no doubt that you are immune to prosecution and encouraged to fully disclose information, which is solely used to improve safety for not only for the military, but for the greater good of all mankind. In my mind, that is what makes it unique.
If you were to tell a pilot in 1935 that in 2015, more pilgrims would die traveling on foot to Mecca (or being politically correct, Hajj 2015), then 3 billion passengers on commercial airplanes, travelling at 575 mph, taking off and landing in everything from thunderstorms and dense fog to snow, ice and gale force winds, sometimes even banking between skyscrapers on approach, they would have looked at you as though you were insane and told you to seek immediate psychological help. But those are the facts, made possible by human beings working together using this system and for the greater good of all.
111 customer reviews
By customer groups & interests
Health & Wellness
Is this feature helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Review this product
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-8 of 111 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
February 28, 2018
Format: Audible AudiobookVerified Purchase
How should you open your book on failure? Matthew Syed felt on should examine two heart-wrenching stories with similar initial outcomes yet with vastly different responses. A healthy 37-year-old wife and mother of two goes in for a seemingly routine surgery and a typical flight from New York City, NY to Portland, OR. Both cases go, at least to those in charge during the events, inexplicably wrong incredibly fast. The mother dies and the plane crashes; but it is not what happened during these events that matters most according to Syed, it is what happens after. How you respond to those mistakes and learn from them, or don’t can be the difference between future success and failure. Syed chose these two cases for several reasons most notably the divergent responses to their failure. Aviation has pioneered the process of learning from failures and healthcare failures are not typically examined willingly. A “black box,” which is actually orange for those that don’t know, is usually placed in the cockpit and tail of a plane. They monitor every input into the computers onboard, track the conversation between pilot, co-pilot and engineer, and monitor every aspect of flying the plane. These boxes are near indestructible and they are orange because aviators want to find them after the worst thing possible happens, a crash. The information contained within these boxes are scoured over after a crash and researchers glean whatever inputs they are able, so the causes of the crash can be prevented in the future. The industry learns from their mistakes so that they won’t happen again.Healthcare may not be the complete antithesis of Aviation, but it’s close. Doctors react to complications as “a one-off,” “it is just one of those things that can happen,” or “we did the very best we could, but it just didn’t work out.” Mistakes are covered up and not learned from. It is what Syed calls a “closed-loop.” In closed-loops there is no feedback given and thus improvements are not made. According to Syed we should avoid closed-loop situations at all costs.In Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn From their Mistakes—but Some Do Syed dissects why some companies, individuals, or industries succeed and why others fail. Syed weaves the central theme throughout each chapter with topics ranging from how the Scared Straight system actually created more future criminals than prevented, what caused one UK coach to break the Tour de France curse for British cyclists, or how David Beckham became world class at free kicks. Syed analyzes the psychology behind our fear of admitting mistakes and shows the reader why this is such a bad thing. He then demonstrates how successful companies and individuals are built on failures, more importantly learning from the failures they make. While the theme is almost overbearingly present in each chapter, Syed’s case is made within the first two chapters. The storytelling is captive and enjoyable, however reading felt as if you were being nagged by your mother about eating your vegetables. You know you should, but you’ve heard it a dozen times before. By the end of this book that is how you will feel about learning from failures. It is important, you should learn how to do so, but you’ve heard it a dozen times already. Black Box is an enjoyable read with interesting stories and people, but you won’t come away with a how-to on learning from your mistakes. You’ll just know you should.
4 people found this helpfulComment
March 16, 2016
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Learning from mistakes is a valuable discipline. But it is rarely executed. The book deals with the process of dealing with mistakes. The book uses the idea of a black box that is normally found within an airplane. After there is a crash, this black box has recorded the details leading up to the destruction of the plane. Often these boxes are indestructible. The book does an excellent job of detailing the common mistakes and the normal process that occurs when mistakes are made by people. These mistakes can be fixed, but often people have an avoidance culture. Instead of admitting the mistake, the person seeks to cover up, reinterpret the details, and use avoidance language. All of these responses causes the mistake to continue. The book is an excellent read, though, for my American friends, the book is written in the King's language of Canadian spellings for some of the words. This might catch you off guard, but overall, will not effect you. The book is good for congregational leaders, because we all can make mistakes, and learning from them causes us to improve in the future, but reinterpreting them will cause hurt and fault in the congregation. Sometimes the stories seem to be retold from other sources, so some of the material might seem to be a replete from something you have read from the past, but overall, this is found in only a few spots. This is really a good book, and one that will teach you much about the process of failure and discovery.
5 people found this helpfulComment
January 31, 2016
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I put off reading this because I thought the failure thing had been done to death. But I am soooo glad I read. Syed is a good writer and the subject material is interesting. Life is trial and error - read this book based on my recommendation and if you don't enjoy all is not lost, you've still learned to never trust one of my reviews again.
7 people found this helpfulComment