Leading Blog






06.02.08

To Engineer Is Human

To Engineer Is Human
At Book Expo America held in Los Angeles this last weekend, I had the pleasant surprise of meeting Todd Sattersten and Aaron Schleicher of 800ceoread. Nice guys. Todd was kind enough to give me an excerpt containing two reviews from the book he just finished writing with Jack Covert entitled, The 100 Best Business Books of All Time to be released in February 2009.

Todd’s review of To Engineer Is Human was a book I had never read. It was such a well crafted synopsis that I quickly went out and got the book. He extracted the following idea from the book that caught my attention:
Much lip service is given to accepting failure in business as natural phase in the learning process, yet internalizing the idea seems a little more difficult. Shareholders don’t show sympathy for failed products. Customers expect their product to arrive when promised and in pristine condition. Most of the other books featured in these pages detail the workings of successful companies, while Petroski’s book tells a more complicated tale of failure, one in which business practitioners can find wisdom. The most important lesson has to be appreciating failure as a learning opportunity. Failure is common. Not learning from failure forces companies to repeat the same mistakes again. In engineering, that repetition can cost lives; in business, our livelihood.
Henry Petrosky wrote that “no one wants to learn by mistakes, but we cannot learn enough from successes to go beyond the state of the art.” The core of the problem would seem to be the stakeholder's failure – or certainly their reluctance – to take the long view. If the rest of the reviews are anything like Todd’s review, the book should be a good read and a valuable reference tool.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:35 PM
| Comments (0) | Books , Learning



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