In a world where mistakes are taken as a sign of weakness, it can be tempting to cover them up, but in the world of aviation there are hundreds of lives at stake and not dealing with problems can be deadly.
So, while Threat and Error Management (TEM) might sound like corporate jargon, if you’ve ever flown in an aeroplane it may just have saved your life.
TEM is the industry-agreed strategy for sharing the lessons of failure and ensuring every pilot, air traffic controller and even plane designer can take advantage of previous experience.
Threats, under the definition of the system, are external issues that the pilot will not expect to occur. Errors, meanwhile, are the mistakes that those in cockpit are guaranteed to make every once in a while.
Rather than being chastised, each fault is recorded as a precious example of a weakness in the overall system and then shared with all airlines by an industry body called LOSA.
The system began in the early 1990s but in recent years other organisations have been embracing mistakes as a way of creating a culture of sharing best practice.
Embracing mistakes is a tactic that is widening its reach elsewhere too.
By 1997, basketball hero Michael Jordan was telling us in a Nike advert that “I’ve lost 300 games, 26 times I’ve been trusted to make the game winning shot and missed… and that is why I succeed.”
Such has become the importance of the idea for the tech industry, meanwhile, that the Financial Times last year placed “We celebrate failure” among a list of industry clichés.
The age of failure is well and truly here.