Tolerance For Error in Today’s Economy

Published: November 29, 2011

In today's economy, there's no longer any tolerance for error. The airline industry figured this out a long time ago since the consequences of a glitch are grave. The health care industry isn't far behind. For some teams, absolute interdependence is non-negotiable.

When safety and health are not at stake, tolerance for error comes with a little wiggle-room. Learning from mistakes is the fuel for invention and growth. More and more, however, businesses are forced to treat team effectiveness as a requirement. The fat has been trimmed from most organizations. Employees who have survived workforce reductions are carrying the loads of those who have left. Mistakes are more costly than ever before. While the survival of a human may not be at stake, the future of an organization may be teetering.

In the health care industry where medical error costs families nearly 100,000 lives each year, patient safety specialists have begun to look at the data. Why does one surgeon’s team commit more errors than another when the procedures, tools and space are identical? Why does a PM shift experience a different error rate than a day shift? Might the difference lie in something as simple as communication, collaboration, and teamwork? Leading institutions are now mapping their patient safety data to team effectiveness metrics. Common sense gets validated.

You don’t have to be in the business of taking care of people to approach risk reduction with such urgency. Any organization can measure their team effectiveness and map it to their performance. You just have to be willing to live with the answers that arise from the question.

Does your business still have room for error in today’s economy?

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.