29 January 2012

The Case For Obsessively Compulsive Processes

One of the realities of modern life is that it is often the case that a very minor oversight can cause immense harm.

For example, because an airplane maintenance "contractor accidentally left a plug in one of the fuel tank’s relief vents during routine maintenance", the plane nearly crashed (which would have killed a couple dozen people) and experienced $25,000,000 in damage. In all likelihood, no one who did the work, or for that matter all of the people who did the work and their company's total net worth, and the full limits of their liability insurance policy, have any capacity to pay for that kind of mistake. It is routinely the case that people are in a position to do much more harm than they could ever pay to compensate a victim for causing.

This makes processes that make it impossible for anyone to screw up without extraordinary levels of malfeasance really important.

This case involved high technology, but the same thing can happen in big businesses in a non-technological context.

Indeed, generally speaking, these are precisely the kind of mistakes that most affilict modern society.

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