Reviews; October 1996; Scientific American Magazine; by Adams, Powell, Nuland; 5 Page(s)
Perhaps the human race carries a gene for hubris. The history of technology, since the time of Icarus¿s ill-fated aviation project, is littered with accounts of Man (it usually is the males) overreaching himself. Accidents happen, and after nearly every major one there is an inquest. With the benefit of hindsight, it is usually possible to identify the human error, or chain of errors, that caused things to go wrong. Most of the voluminous literature on risk management--with a few exceptions, such as that aimed at venture capitalists--is devoted to picking over the bones of past accidents and drawing lessons to ensure that those particular mistakes can never happen again. It is a frustrated literature. Things continue to go wrong, and there is little evidence that we are learning from this catalogue of mishap and disaster. Dietrich D¿rner¿s book demonstrates why.
The Logic of Failure is a prescriptive book, and not a modest one: D¿rner sets out a five-step "schema for the entire problem-solving process." Address the tasks laid out in each step, and whatever problem is at hand will be solved in the most effective possible way. Or so one might wish.