How can we learn from large system failures? In their new book Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It
(Penguin Press, 2018), Chris Clearfield
and András Tilcsik
explore system failures and what we can learn from them. The book takes readers through a diverse set of experiences and accidents that may not appear on the surface to be related, but that all have similar problems and potential solutions. From DC Metro Train accidents to Three Mile Island, Clearfield and Tilcsik provide background and analysis on each issue, stringing together recurring issues within systems failures. Highlighting the works of Sociologists and other researchers and journalists throughout the text, this book is engaging and connects real world examples to real, usable tips for preventing system failures.
This book will be of interest to a wide audience, including sociologists, business leaders, and anyone interested in changing organizations for the better. This book would be accessible for an undergraduate class in sociology or business and would be an interesting addition to a graduate course where the studies highlighted in the book could be linked and discussed.
Sarah E. Patterson is a postdoc at the University of Western Ontario. You can tweet her at @spattersearch.