Avoidable Disasters

Humans keep causing avoidable disasters. I’m a pilot qualified to fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), and I am acutely aware that the number one cause of deadly crashes for pilots like me is to fly into clouds or fog. It turns out that it takes only 45 seconds for an untrained pilot  to become completely disoriented in clouds. Professionals train long hours to learn to override their intuitive feeling of what is up and down and trust their instruments.

Nevertheless, a professional helicopter pilot who had only VFR training flew his helicopter into the ground after getting disoriented in a cloud, killing himself, basketball icon Kobe Bryant, and seven others.

In IT, we also know how to do things. As an industry, we have decades of experience building solid, user-friendly systems and running IT projects. But we mysteriously insist on doing it wrong, causing one IT disaster after another. We think we can take a shortcut in order to meet our deadline, just like the helicopter pilot taking the shortcut through a cloud. As the CIO, you need to make sure you have a process in place to prevent people working on critical systems from taking shortcuts.