Epic fail only if you don’t plan for failures…

Tim Kastelle runs a very good blog. Hat-tip to him for Atul Gawande’s commencement address at Williams College. Gawande is a surgeon who writes about risk, performance, etc. Checklist Manifesto etc.

We talk a lot about “risk management”—a nice hygienic phrase. But in the end, risk is necessary. Things can and will go wrong. Yet some have a better capacity to prepare for the possibility, to limit the damage, and to sometimes even retrieve success from failure.

When things go wrong, there seem to be three main pitfalls to avoid, three ways to fail to rescue. You could choose a wrong plan, an inadequate plan, or no plan at all. Say you’re cooking and you inadvertently set a grease pan on fire. Throwing gasoline on the fire would be a completely wrong plan. Trying to blow the fire out would be inadequate. And ignoring it—“Fire? What fire?”—would be no plan at all.

And while I am with Gawande on the importance of learning from failure, and farting about for a bit, I think the commenter below the article has a point or two -
it helps to try your hand at philosophy, try a rock band, etc., when you know you’re smart and your parents are doctors and, well, at worse, you got a Stanford Degree and a Rhodes scholarship to fall back on…. That’s what the elite left is forgetting about the new middle class, they are so squeezed that such risk taking that could be expected previously does not happen — same kid from a family making $70,000/yr does not have the ability to dick around like that — however useful it is — he’s gotta get work, gotta fund his $20,000 (or more)/yr education, deal with health care costing a healthy family of four $1500/month, deal with his parent’s shrinking retirement accounts etc… Excellent advice from much of the college he was talking to, but does it work the same at UMass? — not exactly sure.
DT – Btw, Doonesbury on June 10th is good on this – the debt burden for graduates…

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2 Responses to Epic fail only if you don’t plan for failures…

  1. Tim Kastelle says:

    Interesting response. Although I think that people have more scope for trying stuff than they often believe. That’s not to downplay the squeeze on the middle (and lower) classes right now. The redistribution of wealth that’s going on is obscene, and it’s having huge impacts. And if you’re squeezed a plan B is even more important, because the stakes are higher if plan A doesn’t work.

    Still, definitely some good points there.

  2. leavergirl says:

    When I read “debt burden of graduates” it connected. Bride prices! When the aggrandizers took over a tribe, suddenly everybody had to buy their brides… that made sure that young people started out in life heavily in debt to the older generations, and had to mind their Ps and Qs. A very old tactic. None of that messing around and wild experimentation… Nose to the grindstone instead.

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