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Will Your Next Mistake Be Fatal? by Robert Mittelstaedt

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Introduction

What, Me Worry?

What do the failure of Enron, the Watergate scandal, the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, and most airline crashes have in common? Quite simply, it would be almost impossible to make each of these things happen without a serious sequence of errors that goes unchecked. Whether it is a physical disaster, a political blunder, a corporate misstep, or a strategic mistake, as the investigation unfolds, we always find out that it took a unique set of compounding errors to bring the crisis to front-page status.

In many cases, these blunders are so complex and the impact so serious that we find ourselves saying, “You couldn’t make that happen if you tried.” The difference between organizations that end up on the front ...

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