In the UK, there is currently a great deal of soul searching regarding how to prevent what happened in one part of the National Health Service recurring elsewhere. Any death is a loss, those that were preventable arguably more so. When things ‘go wrong’, the calls for more to be done to prevent mistakes seems to start from the assumption that the volume of errors is both excessive and inherently preventable.

Brian Goldman, a Canadian doctor and broadcaster (his radio series White Coat, Black Art, is worth a listen), argues in this TED talk that, not only do we expect too much of clinicians, in doing so we make owning up to mistakes undiscussable and reduce the opportunities for learning and preventing further errors.

Whilst the pressure to be and be seen to be infallible is particularly strong in medicine, it is not unusual in other fields. For us at, we get curious about how organisations might be if fallibility was accepted as the basis for learning rather than an excuse for self-flagellation or a public flogging.