Dealing with the Occurrence of Failure
Chris and Fred discussing how different organizations deal with failures. Failures are a ‘bad’ thing in that a system doesn’t do what you hoped it would. But what about failures that occur during the design or production process? This is different. If you have scope to improve your system, then failures that you can analyze in a laboratory or test bed are invaluable. They, more than any other event, will help you understand the vulnerabilities of your system. And you must actively seek vulnerability to improve reliability. But if you are looking for failures, you must first admit that your system is vulnerable. And that is difficult for many people to do.
Join Chris and Fred as they discuss how failures can help inform the design of a reliable system. In fact, not only do they help inform the design, they are an essential part of knowing how to create a system that will work. Not just one that can. As Ryan Gosling or Neil Armstrong once said, ‘we need to fail down here so we don’t fail up there.’ This is referencing the Apollo program of the 1960s and 1970s where the aim was to successfully land a crewed spacecraft on the moon. But the sentiment is as true then as it is now. Your product will fail … do you want it to be in your laboratory or in the hands of your customer?
- Why do organizations suppress the idea of failure? We have seen to many design efforts governed by the idea that ‘success’ is having a product that does not fail any of its qualification tests. So you then test to pass – not test to learn.
- Even engineers need to be encouraged to talk about failures. Managers need to encourage their design teams to discuss failure. Managers also need to go beyond saying it is OK to talk about failures – and point out that they would be concerned if no failures had occurred.
- If you are not failing, you are not trying, and you are not learning.
Enjoy an episode of Speaking of Reliability. Where you can join friends as they discuss reliability topics. Join us as we discuss topics ranging from design for reliability techniques, to field data analysis approaches.