Dr. Marc Epstein in his book Flirting With Disaster: Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental (Dr. Marc Epstein with Michael Ellserg Sterling Publishing New York 2008) claims that societally we don’t have an easy way to learn from organizational mistakes of the past.
Organizations do not routinely and systematically learn from past errors and mistakes- if fact they rarely do. He calls this an ‘intentional lack of oversight’ which creates an anti-learning mechanism . Avoiding improved performance is not the purpose of the mechanism. But because studying present and past faulty decision making risks may invite blame and organizational , political or even legal penalty, those outcomes ‘outweigh’ the benefits of clearly understanding what needs to be changed within the organization.
He further claims that humans are good at making decisions that are critical to their survival. Their strategy is to avoid the worst mistake, rather than to make the best decision.
Epstein concludes ‘As with all such difficult and persistent human problems, the question is whether we have the wisdom and the will to change’.
More about Epstein can be found at: