More on the learnings from the latest Matthew Syed book. (read the first part here)
It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer - William Blackstone, jurist
We assume smart people are most likely to reach sound judgments (Blair/Bush/Iraq/Iraq) but (these) people won't admit to mistakes or indeed close a business/project that's no longer working. Coincidently, this is something I have just done after 3 years of working for free on community project. It worked well, but there are so many people doing something similar now, I am no longer needed. It was hard, and I should have done it a year ago.
Talking of smart people, economists don't change their school (of thought) ever. But if they're not learning, how are they still experts? There’s the story of a surgeon who refuses to change gloves even when the patient had a latex allergy.
What you remember seeing and what you actually see are two different things. i.e. you can believe it but that doesn't mean it's true. I’d recently come across America’s Innocence project which helps exonerate innocent people locked up and the work they’ve done features a few times in Black Box Thinking.
As well as exonerating those that are wrongly imprisoned, they are campaigning for line-ups to be administered by an officer who doesn't know the suspect and for sequential line ups rather than all together. Also to film all the interrogations.
I would have thought all of this was obvious in a fair society.
How many people miss out because they want to make their product perfect before taking it to market? I’m off the mind-set that it’s better to (quietly) put your service out there and gain some feedback, then keep improving it. The author refers to this as MVP = minimum viable product.
Moving back the prison service for a minute, Scared Straight is a programme in America designed to scare young people into going straight by spending a day in prison with convicts doing time for extremely violent crimes. A documentary aired in America ignored the data – which provided no proof it worked - but believed the stories i.e. parents saying their child was different when they returned from the trip. Well of course they would be, but how?
If you ask a simple question in such a way, you’ll get the answer you want.
Many people are convinced that that government figures are fudged to look good. I’m also of the belief that some not-for-profits* are often disguised as social enterprises do the same thing, by asking the simple question.
How many people have you helped with your social business? Answer 50.
That doesn’t necessarily mean 50 people have changed (not re-offended, settled into a job, stayed sober, been clean). That just means they say they have.
People want to believe they hype that ALL not-for-profits/charities/social businesses are saints and believe the hype. I know many regular businesses that do much uncredited work for the community and causes.
There were more Scared Straight documentaries that continued with the positive outcome theory. One person featured on that first programme offended soon after & got caught decades later when he was convicted of theft and DNA was collected.
* What a term! An organisation needs to make profit in order to do good.
American Airlines took 1 olive out of their salads & saved $500,000
(and added a row of seats, as I recall).
Failure Drives Innovation
3 groups are asked to come with ideas:
One asked to brainstorm
Second had no guidelines given
Third asked to question & pull apart others ideas
Last one came up with 25% more ideas.
Dyson, Dropbox, windup radio, ATM, collapsible buggy all dreamt up due to one person having a frustrating problem.
Some people change the world, others are footnotes on the patent catalogue.
James Dyson says when he goes to patent, someone else has always done it first, his has to be a little different.
Cultures without the blame culture report more errors but make less of them.
The tragic death of baby Peter Connelly who died in the hands of his mother, her partner and his brother resulted in a media witch hunt for Social Services, rather than the culprits. This bought about death threats to the head and her family. Worse, social workers were so scared of getting the blame again, those that stayed in the profession, removed more children from families, and there weren’t enough foster parents available to look after them. A huge knock-on effect of the media's reporting caused chaos where more care was needed.
The first pilot in history to be put on trial committed suicide years after being found guilty despite doing everything he could in exceptional circumstances & saving the day by landing the BA flight in safety back in 1989. It could have gone terribly wrong, but it didn’t. He was only fined £2000 which leads us to think the judge didn’t think it should have gone to trial.
Both of these two stories clearly ended with intelligent people bought into depression by the blame culture. Imagine what may have been?
Note at Republic national bank of new York:
- search for the guilty
- punishment of the innocence
- rewards for the uninvolved
= the 6 phases of a project
I never use the F-word so reading about so much of it has resulted in my being outside the proverbial comfort zone. I’ve always said I don’t want to fail in order to succeed, but in reality, of course I have done that many times. I’ve learnt from it, done things better but never uttered the F-word out loud.
Interestingly, Japan and China are the least entrepreneurial due to failure being frowned upon in those countries. It’s taken as a sign you haven't got what it takes.
At the opposite end of the scale, in the USA it is possibly celebrated. Henry Ford and the like have all talked about failures.
David Beckham learnt from his mistake in the 1998 world cup. He was knocked down – had his hair pulled too, it turns out – but he knew like we all did, he shouldn’t have kicked back which resulted in a red card. But he went on to win the treble with his club next season. He says ‘what's life about other than learning from your mistakes?’.