by Gerard I. Nierenberg
The Right Path for Managers
It's best to adopt the assumption that errors do not occur without a cause. Building on this assumption, you could establish the following line of reasoning:
1. Every error results from some cause(s).
2. Analysis of errors can uncover these causes.
3. The causes of errors can be eliminated or their effects minimized or reduced.
4. Accomplishing this will reduce the number of total errors.
Since we have examined other generalized statements regarding errors, probing them to uncover any hidden assumptions that might invalidate them, we need to apply the same sort of analysis to error awareness itself.
Error awareness begins with three postulates. The first declares that we will benefit from analyzing human error in terms of functional and qualitative classification as well as quantitative measurement. The error awareness program classifies different kinds of errors according to their significant characteristics, effects and importance.
The second asserts that any individual who can perform a simple, repetitive task correctly much of the time can satisfactorily perform that task even more often. The individual has actually demonstrated possession of sufficient knowledge and skill to perform the specific task correctly on typical units of work. Any unsatisfactory performance on one or more specific units must therefore be due not to incompetence, but rather to other causes.
The third insists that whenever an individual has the capability to correctly perform a repetitive task more often than he or she does, then something can be done to improve performance. In short, anyone can achieve their potential if they take the right actions.
An obvious conclusion based on these postulates is that many - probably most - individual errors are not inevitable. Managers and individuals therefore can reduce the incidence of error. We must first, however, find out what gives rise to them and then adopt an effective strategy to overcome these causes. Making errors is a function of human behavior, of human imperfection or indifference. By applying the techniques of error awareness, we can identify the wide range of influences on human behavior that might cause error.
To contact Gerard I. Nierenberg, write to:
Negotiation Institute, Inc.,
10 East 40th Street, Suite 1308
New York, NY 10016
Phone 212.447.0077 Fax 212.447.7880
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: www.negotiating.com.