Meltdown: What Plane Crashes, Oil Spills, and Dumb Business Decisions Can Teach Us about How to Succeed at Work and at Home
A groundbreaking take on how complexity causes failure in all kinds of modern systems--from social media to air travel--this practical and entertaining book reveals how we can prevent meltdowns in business and life
"Endlessly fascinating, brimming with insight, and more fun than a book about failure has any right to be, Meltd ...more
we rely heavily on computers, but it seems most of catastrophes happen due to human error, like the tool left inside the engine of a plane, scandal at the Oscars, etc. we need more people to speak up if they think they messed up. I enjoyed that part in this book. I commend those individuals. It's a shame that people have died to find out what went wrong and why. Should ...more
In my field of global environmental h ...more
Grounded in examples most of us would know from the news, we learn about patterns across failure-prone systems (non-linear cause and effect as well as tight "coupling" across the parts), why our solutions to these patterns tend to fail (we un ...more
This is one of those books that is so relevant to my work in project delivery and the world I (we) live in that, even after borrowing this book from the library, I decided to straight up buy it because of the sheer amount of notes I took.
Our world has become increasingly complex, and our systems have become less transparent and more tightly cou ...more
Communications seems to be the magic solution, as it is with most problems, in an age when texting is the standard mode of communications.
A few years ago when I still had Scribd, I found a book by Charles Perrow called “Normal Accidents.” My Goodreads review of it is here. As it turns out, that wasn’t the kind of book I was looking for. “Meltdown” is exactly what I was looking for. It takes Perrow’s theories and provides a more modern and digestible framework.
Perrow’s thesis is that in systems with sufficient complexity and tight coupling (not a lot of time or room for error), accidents are inevitable. He calls them normal acciden...more
Tight coupling + complexity = meltdown
Fukushima. Long island, Target in Canada. Enron. Flint water. Washington Metro. Aircraft disasters. Oscar mix up.
You cannot think of all the potential problems because complex systems interact with each other and create unforeseeable problems. Each person in the system can only see a small part of it. However warning signs do appear first.
With the rise of a ...more
One of the reviews I’ve read before reading it, mentioned that the authors quote a lot of research and do very little original work. What I experienced, in fact, made it seem like a compliment, because there is nothing wrong in compiling a ton of research as long as you mention the sources and explai ...more
Thank you to Penguin/Random House for the free copy for review. It was delicious. ...more
Using several fascinating stories, the authors show how a combination of complexity (i.e. when parts of a system interact in non-linear, hidden, and unexpected ways) and tight coupling (i.e. when there is little slack among the parts of a system and the failure of one part easily affects the others) causes meltdowns.
The authors then offer suggestions on how to make meltdowns less likely, while talking about the research on which these suggestions are built. Some of these suggestions i ...more
Don't skip the epilogue. There is an excellent reference to how Yeats' The Second Comming is used inaccurately to describe why world news seems to be getting p ...more
This is an interesting look at different types of meltdowns and failures throughout history. It covers topics ranging from stock market and business failures, to retail and medical failures.
It seems that the main causes of meltdowns are the intricacy of systems and organizations, and the combination of small errors that can add up and lead to big problems.
There are a lot of concrete, well placed examples of these different types of meltdowns. I appre ...more
A wonderful intellectual successor to Charles Perrow’s Normal Accidents, which forms the intellectual spine of the book. This book doesn’t look at the broader economic and social causes of why these meltdowns along the way, though- but still a sufficient read.
I don't think I'm the intended audience for this book, but I still enjoyed it. Probably someone with a background in engineering or manufacturing would get more out of this book. Really good use of case studies and anecdotes and the book covers a lot of ground in a very accessible way. It was a little dry at times, but again, take my perspective with a grain of salt. To learn more about everything that can go wrong with nu ...more
Meltdowns are more often caused by a number of small component failures that interact in unpredictable ways than by a particular component or operator failure. Failures are more likely to happen when systems are both:
· Complex: many components are joined by complex (non-linear) interaction, so that the failure of one affects many ...more
Diversity feels strange. It’s inconvenient. But it makes us work harder and ask tougher questions.
Build diverse teams and listen to skeptics.
Training those in power to listen to dissent is crucial, as is encouraging subordinates to speak out.
Diversity moves people out of their comfort zone, thus increasing vigilance and avoiding big mistakes.
Diversity is critical to catching bad ideas before they manifest in bad consequences. Diverse groups push peo ...more
Why do failures happen in huge industrial and nuclear plants? How do we avoid aeroplane crashes with thousands of planes landing in LAX each day? These ideas are extensively explored in this non-fiction novel that provides a base for you to apply these principles to your own business.
I freely admit that business management and so forth is not usu ...more
I know quite a bit about this subject because my profession was complex IT system design, and I found the book was overly simplistic. This is not because some of the tools they suggest, such as for structured decision making on a small scale, are too simple; they're appropriate at the small scales and often things seem almost too obvious that people thing they don't need ...more
Chris lives in Seattle, Washington with his family. When he's not writing or working on short author biographies, Chris, a c ...more