Missing Near Misses

Emre Soyer
1 min readMar 16, 2022
Soyer 2022

In some processes, sometimes something almost goes wrong.

Almost!

Luckily, the eventual outcome turns out to be good and desirable. Yet it could have easily gone the other way.

This would be called a near miss. And it’s important to acknowledge it for wiser decision making.

Unfortunately, business world doesn’t necessarily incentivize disclosing and learning from near misses. Ideally, such events should push organizations to establish preventive measures to reduce the risk of future failure. But in a result-driven business environment, decision makers are often motivated to hide these events.

After all, nothing bad really happened. Why fix things when they are not broken?

Sometimes the same near miss occurs again. Now, this should be a warning sign of potential trouble. Right? Well… This repeated almost-mishap can actually end up having the opposite effect. Given that we are safe after two incidents, there’s little to worry about.

After all, nothing bad really happened in two separate cases.

Near misses are precious gems when it comes to preventing mistakes, reducing risks, and avoiding losses. Yet the way we learn from and reward outcomes in most business practices ensures that we are more likely to miss their timely and valuable lessons.

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Emre Soyer

behavioral scientist, co-author of The Myth of Experience