Error and safety culture - interview with Robert Schröder

Under the motto "Digitalization - better together" our Trivadis TechEvent will take place on September 14th in Regensdorf near Zurich. At the largest Swiss IT event, more than 70 sessions in eleven parallel tracks will revolve around the top themes of digitalization, agile project and organization forms, blockchain and cloud.

For the keynote we were able to win Robert Schröder, training captain and "Flight Safety Manager" at Lufthansa. In his lecture "The difference between errors and failure", he explains how managers can take advantage of the error culture in aviation on the ground and thus improve the decision-making and leadership competence of their employees. We wanted to know more about it and asked questions in advance:

Robert_SchroederMr. Schröder, the title of your presentation is "The difference between mistakes and failures". In a nutshell: Isn't that the same?

Robert Schröder: "At first this assumption is obvious. And it also corresponds to the subjective feeling that arises when one has made a mistake. In fact, however, it is not errors that lead to failure, but ignoring the human error."

 From a pilot or flight captain one likes to assume that his word in the cockpit is law. Is that true?

Robert Schröder: "The answer to this question arises from the previous one: Even a captain is a human being and is therefore subject to human error. That's why we work as a team. It would be fatal if the knowledge and experience of the other team members were left unused due to a rigid hierarchy."

To what extent can the knowledge of flight safety help modern companies? After all, decisions within seconds are not necessary here. Do the same principles apply here?

Robert Schröder: "Of course there are situations in the cockpit that require reactions within seconds. The vast majority of decisions, however, take place in a social dynamic that can also be found "on the ground". Both in the cockpit and in the office, human interaction is always the connecting element. It doesn't matter whether it's about passenger safety or the annual balance sheet: we achieve the best results in teams that complement each other and can contribute different points of view. Clear communication rules and flattened hierarchies change the way we deal with each other. The opinion of every team member is required. This does not mean, however, that in critical situations decisions are made based on grassroots democracy. Decision making must be based on a structured process."

airport-2384837_1920Photo by RitaE on Pixabay

Visionary question: What conclusions do you draw from the findings of error culture when it comes to interaction with modern systems such as artificial intelligence?

Robert Schröder: "Machines can do many things better and more reliably than we can. This confronts us with the question of whether it makes sense to deduce our raison d'être merely from making as few mistakes as possible. We should start looking for human characteristics that cannot be replaced by machines. I am convinced that then a meaningful interaction of human with artificial intelligence is possible."

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