Summary of Will Your Next Mistake Be Fatal?

Avoiding the Chain of Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Organization

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Will Your Next Mistake Be Fatal? book summary
Suddenly a series of small errors creates a catastrophe. You could have averted it, if you'd known how to read the signs.


9 Overall

8 Applicability

9 Innovation

9 Style


Robert Mittelstaedt has written a rare, commendable book. He manages to address a significant business topic - the phenomenon of major corporate blunders - in an original, insightful and entertaining way. In this intriguing volume, he cites case after fascinating case where a series of seemingly small errors went uncorrected until a whole house of cards marked "faulty assumptions" came crashing down. The biggest mistake you can make is assuming that a fatal blunder just couldn’t happen in your organization, and the second biggest is ignoring the warning signs that disaster is just ahead. The key, Mittelstaedt advises, is to learn to admit that something has gone wrong before the situation spirals out of control. encourages every thoughtful business professional to read this substantive contribution to the field of risk management and disaster prevention.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What signs warn that a disaster could be headed your way
  • Why people often fail to heed signs warning of impending doom
  • How your corporate culture contributes to the likelihood of a fatal business error
  • Why you must address seemingly minor problems early, before they get compounded


A Cascade of Errors
On December 29, 1972, Eastern Airlines flight 401 from New York to Miami had a relatively minor problem. As it prepared for landing, its "gear down and locked" light would not illuminate. Was that due to a mechanical problem or was it just a faulty indicator...
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About the Author

Robert E. Mittelstaedt, Jr. is dean and professor of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and a corporate consultant. His consulting clients have included the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He formerly directed the Wharton Innovation Center and served as an officer in the U.S. Navy nuclear submarine corps.

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