Lessons from 9/11: How Systems Fail and People Rise to the Occasion

9/11 is more than just a traumatic scar on our memories. It is also a reminder of how systems lacking due care and preparation can fail in a crisis, and of how human beings with training and empathy can shine a powerful light into the darkness to bring aid to those who need it most. 

For those of us of a certain vintage, it’s hard to believe that 9/11 was twenty years ago. Watching footage of the events of that day brings back memories so vivid that it feels as though we’re experiencing them again for the first time. 9/11 is a scar on our collective consciousness. For those who lost someone in the attacks, it is a trauma that will never completely heal. 

It’s striking that the way we refer to that event—“9/11”—demonstrates an intriguing way we think about time in relation to cataclysmic disasters. “9/11” represents a day, a twenty-four-hour … Read more...

Why the Human Factor is as Important as Your Technology

In 1979, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) held a workshop at which it presented research demonstrating that the root cause of most aircraft accidents was human error and worker performance relating to poor critical thinking, lack of leadership, and miscommunication. The presentation was a response to the crash of United Airlines Flight 173 in Portland, Oregon in 1978, in which a landing gear problem forced the crew to circle the airport prior to landing. The captain focused on the landing gear problem for over an hour, missing frequent communications from his crew that the fuel supply was running low. The captain only realized his lack of situational awareness moments prior to the plane running out of fuel and crashing only a few miles short of the runway. Two crew members and eight passengers were killed. 

NASA therefore developed the practice of crew resource management (CRM). CRM addresses the human factor in teams … Read more...