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Oct 12

Preoccupation with failure I

Posted by dvstralen  filed under    0 Comment(s)    Add a Comment  comment-icon.png

“Test of failure” is a term from engineers. In firefighting it is loss of life and fires and we should learn from the little failures to keep them from becoming big failures. Small failures occur commonly.

In healthcare, failure is seen as a weakness and imperfection. It is personalized and failure is seen as an individual act. Part of professionalism, in the healthcare view, is that you do not have failures.

People seem to accept talking about failures and weaknesses but they do not put them into the first person. The physician is supposed to have all the answers, when the physician does not the physician and others see that as failure.

When we discuss failure we do not include failure of how to think. We do not seem to recognize the different ways to think and how they fit different circumstances.  

In preoccupation with failure, Weick and Sutcliffe were looking at preoccupation as part of the culture and failure as systems failure. Dr. Weick was looking at systemic mindfulness and failure. Preoccupation does not have an action complement in it. This all presumes that we have good communication going on. (Weick, personal communication December 21, 2012)

Weick and Sutcliffe

One problem with preoccupation with failure is people think they should focus on failure and they react negatively to that, it makes you sound negative. Also, that it makes you think “we are doing something wrong.” (Kathleen Sutcliffe, personal communication November 17, 2011).

To avoid failure you must embrace failure. The organization that does not plan for failure will fail (Todd LaPorte). Failure detection involves responding to weak signals. It is more than detection. Failure in an HRO is a systems issue, not an individual issue. Many failures have a long history of occurrence, but not at a level causing catastrophic failure. Being preoccupied with finding these failures creates HRO.

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