The difference between failure and errors…

Written by Stuart Haden on March 21, 2024

I’ve just started Amy Edmondson’s latest book – Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well. She’s arguably the go to expert on Psychological Safety.

I am liking the way she starts the book with definitions of failure and errors.

Failure is an outcome that deviates from desired results. E.g. failing to win a hoped for gold medal or over cooking dinner.

Whereas errors (or mistakes) are unintended deviations from pre-specified standards (such as procedures, rules or policies). E.g. putting the cereal in the fridge and the milk in the cupboard.

The important thing is they are unintended and tend to have minor consequences.