Once a quarter, we will review a book meant to empower workers from all sectors to become better managers and employees. This blog post is based on this quarter’s book selection: Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syd.

l101Have you ever failed at something? I know I have. A lot of failures in life are something simple, like toasting a piece of bread and burning it. No big deal; you get another piece of bread or just scrape off the burnt part. But what about a failure when you’re piloting an aircraft weighing over 200 tons? An Eastern Air Lines pilot, who had 29,700 flight hours, failed one day in 1972, resulting in 101 fatalities and 75 injured survivors when his aircraft crashed into the Everglades.

Matthew Syd’s book talks about failure, among other things, and how the airline industry embraces failure as a way to prevent additional failures. According to Independent, “you are almost 70 times more likely to die of poisoning than in an air accident, and 12 times more likely to die while walking.” That is in part due to the airline industry’s willingness to learn from failures and continuous improvement.


Failure happens to everyone, even those who strive for perfection. How you handle the failure is what matters. Basketball legend Michael Jordan said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Read Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syd and join us on March 31 at 2:00pm in the Webb Building (room 4.F.2) so we can share how you can still fail but succeed by analyzing the failure and learning from what went wrong. That can only happen by creating a culture where honest, open communication is standard operating procedure.

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