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Nobody wants to fail. But in highly complex organizations, success can happen only when we confront our mistakes, learn from our own version of a black box, and create a climate where it’s safe to fail. We all have to endure failure from time to time, whether it’s underperforming at a job interview, flunking an exam, or losing a pickup basketball game. But for people working in safety-critical industries, getting it wrong can have deadly consequences. Consider the shocking fact that preventable medical error is the third-biggest killer in the United States, causing more than 400,000 deaths every year. More people die from mistakes made by doctors and hospitals than from traffic accidents. And most of those mistakes are never made public, because of malpractice settlements with nondisclosure clauses. For a dramatically different approach to failure, look at aviation. Every passenger aircraft in the world is equipped with an almost indestructible black box. Whenever there’s any sort of mishap, major or minor, the box is opened, the data is analyzed, and experts figure out exactly what went wrong. Then the facts are published and procedures are changed, so that the same mistakes won’t happen again. By applying this method in recent decades, the industry has created an astonishingly good safety record. Few of us put lives at risk in our daily work as surgeons and pilots do, but we all have a strong interest in avoiding predictable and preventable errors. So why don’t we all embrace the aviation approach to failure rather than the health-care approach? As Matthew Syed shows in this eye-opening book, the answer is rooted in human psychology and organizational culture. Syed argues that the most important determinant of success in any field is an acknowledgment of failure and a willingness to engage with it. Yet most of us are stuck in a relationship with failure that impedes progress, halts innovation, and damages our careers and personal lives. We rarely acknowledge or learn from failure—even though we often claim the opposite. We think we have 20/20 hindsight, but our vision is usually fuzzy. Syed draws on a wide range of sources—from anthropology and psychology to history and complexity theory—to explore the subtle but predictable patterns of human error and our defensive responses to error. He also shares fascinating stories of individuals and organizations that have successfully embraced a black box approach to improvement, such as David Beckham, the Mercedes F1 team, and Dropbox.
What links the Mercedes Formula One team with Google? What links Dave Braisford's Team Sky and the aviation industry? What is the connection between the inventor James Dyson and the footballer David Beckham? They are all Black Box Thinkers. Whether developing a new product, honing a core skill or just trying to get a critical decision right, Black Box Thinkers aren't afraid to face up to mistakes. In fact, they see failure as the very best way to learn. Rather than denying their mistakes, blaming others or attempting to spin their way out of trouble, these institutions and individuals interrogate errors as part of their future strategy for success. How many of us, hand on heart, can say that we have such a healthy relationship with failure? Learning from failure has the status of a cliché, but this book reveals the astonishing story behind the most powerful method of learning known to mankind, and reveals the arsenal of techniques wielded by some of the world's most innovative organizations. Their lessons can be applied across every field - from sport to education, from business to health. Using gripping case studies, exclusive interviews and really practical takeaways, Matthew Syed - the award-winning journalist and best-selling author of Bounce - explains how to turn failure into success, and shows us how we can all become better Black Box Thinkers.
What links the Mercedes Formula One team with Google? What links Dave Braisford's Team Sky and the aviation industry? What is the connection between the inventor James Dyson and the footballer David Beckham? They are all Black Box Thinkers. Whether developing a new product, honing a core skill or just trying to get a critical decision right, Black Box Thinkers aren't afraid to face up to mistakes. In fact, they see failure as the very best way to learn. Rather than denying their mistakes, blaming others or attempting to spin their way out of trouble, these institutions and individuals interrogate errors as part of their future strategy for success. How many of us, hand on heart, can say that we have such a healthy relationship with failure? Learning from failure has the status of a cliché, but this book reveals the astonishing story behind the most powerful method of learning known to mankind, and reveals the arsenal of techniques wielded by some of the world's most innovative organizations. Their lessons can be applied across every field - from sport to education, from business to health. Using gripping case studies, exclusive interviews and really practical takeaways, Matthew Syed - the award-winning journalist and best-selling author of Bounce - explains how to turn failure into success, and shows us how we can all become better Black Box Thinkers.
"The pursuit of science by professional scientists every day bears less and less resemblance to the perception of science by the general public. It is not the rule-based, methodical system for accumulating facts that dominates the public view. Rather it is the idiosyncratic, often bumbling search for understanding in mostly uncharted places. It is full of wrong turns, cul-de-sacs, mistaken identities, false findings, errors of fact and judgment-and the occasional remarkable success. The widespread but distorted view of science as infallible originates in an education system that teaches nothing but facts using very large, very frightening textbooks, and is spread by media that report on discoveries but almost never on process. It is further reinforced by politicians who pay for it and want to use it to determine policy and therefore want it right and, worst of all, sometimes by scientists who learn early on that talking too much about failures and not enough about successes can harm their careers. Failure, then, is a book that seeks to make science more appealing by exposing its faults. In this sequel to Ignorance, Stuart Firestein shows us that scientific enterprise is riddled with failures, and that this is not only necessary but good. Failure reveals how science got its start, when humans began to use a process-trial and error-as a kind of recipe that includes a hefty dose of failure. It gives the non-scientifically trained public an insider's view of how science is actually done, with the aim of making it accessible, comprehensible, and entertaining."--Publisher description.
In the vein of the international bestselling Freakonomics, award-winning journalist Matthew Syed reveals the hidden clues to success—in sports, business, school, and just about anything else that you’d want to be great at. Fans of Predictably Irrational and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point will find many interesting and helpful insights in Bounce.
What can Roger Federer teach us about the secret of longevity? What do the All Blacks have in common with improvised jazz musicians? What can cognitive neuroscientists tell us about what happens to the brains of sportspeople when they perform? And why did Johan Cruyff believe that beauty was more important than winning? Matthew Syed, the 'Sports Journalist of the Year 2016', answers these questions and more in a fascinating, wide-ranging and provocative book about the mental game of sport. How do we become the best that we can be, as individuals, teams and as organisations? Sport, with its innate sense of drama, its competitive edge, its psychological pressures, its sense of morality and its illusive quest for perfection, provides the answers.
If I Could Tell You Just One Thing . . . curates invaluable wisdom from 50 of today's most remarkable, diverse, and influential voices in an engaging collection of profiles. Paired with a specially commissioned pen-and-ink portrait, each essay and its illuminating nugget of life advice is gathered together and is sure to surprise, entertain, and encourage readers—and leave a lasting impression.

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