During World War II, the British Air Ministry tried to figure out why they’d had so many bomber losses. Engineers looked at every bullet hole on every bomber, and after analyzing the results, decided to add armor plating to the areas with the most holes.
It didn’t work. Enter Abraham Wald, a mathematician.
Wald suggested putting armor plating where the holes weren’t, since the planes returning home had held up, despite the holes. The planes that didn’t return were getting hit in other areas, he theorized, and engineers weren’t seeing where the real problems were.
Any time you look at only the successes, you will have skewed results.
Leaders must look beyond “survivorship bias” at a larger body ofresearch.
Good leaders focus on where the bullet holes are; great leaders consider where they aren’t.
Source: Scott Eblin’s “Next Level” blog
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