Thursday, April 2, 2009

That Good Ole Hidden Failure Strikes Again

Only recently there was a network glitch that occurred on my floor at work; only the section I was working in was affected. Apparently, a critical warning light that was meant to be ‘off’ to indicate the failure remained on and therefore it took our technician longer to find the fault...

We see it happen a lot in cricket. There’s a throw to the stumps at the bowler’s end, it misses, and then the ball is missed by not one fielder, but two. Amazingly, there’s overthrows when there shouldn’t have been. We clutch our heads in dismay! How this situation makes that fielding side look silly. But there’s a perfectly good explanation.

The same principle is seen in industrial maintenance. A system designed to predict the failure or problems with some piece of equipment, suddenly stops working itself; the thing it was protecting suddenly fails and we learn too late a ‘hidden’ failure has occurred.

When we think about it, hidden failures occur everywhere in life, from lapses in our own thinking to major accidents and incidents. There is a litany of these types of mistakes made all through our experience.

The principle is one of surprise; we don’t expect it, after all, we’ve put some plan in place to cater for the odds of failure. The more we plan to predict the failure the more surprised we get when it happens.

We don’t expect unwelcome surprises--they prove annoying.

The critical juncture here is one of awareness. It’s one of remaining expectant of that which we least expect. The trouble is we rely on things too much at times.

We could easily choose, however, to not be so reliant and manually decide our perception, based on evidence i.e. the presenting truth.

This is a difficult thing to learn, to remain aware, when autopilot is the default. It’s worth the investment of effort though. Remain present and deal in fact.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

No comments: