As you set priorities for training, consider focusing on the types of errors that are most likely to cause harm.

Example: Researchers looked at the types of errors that commercial flight crews committed. The vast majority were related to compliance (e.g., performing a checklist from memory instead of using a printed list). But most of these errors ended up being harmless.

More consequential errors usually involved proficiency (e.g., not knowing how to operate equipment) or decision making (e.g., pilots who decided to fly through a storm instead of around it).

Of course, you don’t want to ignore any errors. But when setting priorities, you might begin by reviewing your team’s past results to look for high-consequence errors. Then look more closely to see what’s driving those errors and design your training accordingly.

Source: Helmreich, Robert L., On error management: lessons from aviation, British Medical Journal, March 2000, vol. 320, pp. 781 – 785.

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