THE WELCH COMPANY
440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111-2496
415 781 5700
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 1999 17:49:09 -0800
03 00050 61 99120801
Mr. Morris E. Jones
Business Unit Manager
Cable Network Operation
350 East Plumeria; Mail Stop CHP3-105
San Jose, CA 95124
Plato, Aristotle and the Bottom Line
Reducing Mistakes is No Accident -- Be Prepared
I agree that
today, is the target of any effort to reduce mistakes and improve earnings.
Bad luck is commonly attributed to
in order to avoid responsibility for assessing procedures and instituting
change to reduce mistakes. Experts say bad luck occurs
more often due to lack of preparation; and, good luck
increases when people are prepared. These long established benefits of
being prepared reflect your work with the Boy
Scouts to instill diligence, rather than rely on luck. Intel's chairman,
Andy Grove, makes the same point in his book Only the Paranoid
Thus, merely, saying there are "problems in
the world," and then going home, is not a constructive effort.
.. Yesterday the
decided to stop blaming Murphy,
and make an initial proactive effort to reduce mistakes in medical practice.
As set out in the letter on September 24,
mistakes are growing everywhere, due to information overload.
.. In communication, luck reflects the random chance of getting a positive or
negative connection in the human mind, and second, whether a wrong,
connection is recognized in time to avoid infecting others and causing
a deferred mistake, explained in the letter on September 24.
Accordingly, reducing mistakes in medical practice, engineering and all
forms of enterprise requires reducing the influence of luck, which is the
essence of proactive risk management, as opposed to reactive risk
management that says get more insurance, destroy the documents and circle
.. Culture from training and focused daily experience help make the right
connections, and to correct the wrong connections in time to avoid
mistakes. But, today, chronic information overload diminishes the
influence of these factors. Indeed the growing crush of information
overwhelms most people, greatly increasing the risk of random
mis-connections that are hidden from the conscious mind, leading to
meaning drift. .. The weakness of oral communication is not a new problem. The New World
Order... paper cites Aristotle's admonition in 400 BC that small mistakes
in understanding grow when they go unattended. His teacher,
Plato, urged greater reliance on literacy,
explained in my letter yesterday. Since, as you have often pointed out, key
are timeless. Plato's teachings can help today in growing the bottom
line, i.e., to increase earnings, reduce stress and conflict by reducing
mistakes caused by meaning drift.
This doesn't mean we give up talking, but rather that we
increase literacy to generate useful history in time to
discover that the team is
drifting off course, as you illustrated with the
bow and arrow diagram in the meeting on March 3, 1995.
SDS enhances conventional history, which originally meant adding
"analysis" to the record. SDS also helps organization,
alignment, feedback and summary connected to detail. These added features
intelligence, and so reduce the influence of luck
in the daily ferment of management, which in turn reduces the risk of
error, so that leadership is effective. The article in the June issue of
noted that leaders, who grab a pen and
start writing at the end of meetings, have
good luck in greater measure than those who aver this practice.
Andy Grove, Intel's chairman, gives
good luck a boost by exercising diligence to prepare copious notes that
avoid mistakes caused by
the ambiguity of mental maps, underscoring the wisdom of the
Boy Scout motto...
While Grove notes that it is not fun nor easy to
be prepared, using conventional methods available at Intel,
on August 17 noted that diligence and remembering are helped by SDS
technology. On November 17 1995
Doctor Maynard Brusman, a clinical psychologist, concurred that SDS
helps people remember better than other methods. As noted in my letter
yesterday, for thousands of years, at least since the time of Plato in 400 BC,
people have recognized that diligence and memory are big factors in reducing
mistakes. Poetry evolved to reduce mistakes in human memory.
The alphabet was invented about 700 BC
to improve poetry as a memory aid; and, SDS
improves alphabet technology, as set out in the
NSF proposal, which Intel
reviewed on July 13. Insurance people who work with risk are fond of saying...
Reducing mistakes is no accident!
Investment in people, tools and process reduces the
risk in all forms of enterprise, so there is a better chance to
experience good luck. This requires
leadership with a broader vision. .. Thanks for continuing to consider this important point.