My wife, children, family and close friends know that I am an emotional person.  I wear my heart on my sleeve and when I care about someone or something I do so with a passion that can sometimes be seen as a flaw because I say what is on my mind.

What is on my mind today is heartbreaking, tragic and senseless. The scene today Newtown, Connecticut is every parent’s nightmare.  As the husband of an Elementary School Teacher I visit my wife’s school several times a year and as I watch the news coverage today between flights I can’t imagine the pain this event has caused for the families of these children and for the people who live and work in this small town.

What angers me most however is as a nation we will deal with this senseless shooting the same way we have all the others in the past.  The national media will camp out in Newtown for a few weeks, they will want to meet the heartbroken families, tells us heartbreaking stories about the victims and then delve into the past of the coward who murdered these children speculating as to why he made this tragic choice. Over a period of weeks other world and national events will push what was continuous coverage to a shorter segment later in the newscast and all too soon the tragic events of Newton, Connecticut will become a small segment that runs each year on the date to remind us how time continues to pass.

As a person who has spent the better part of my adult life working with companies to understand and eliminate failures I find myself frustrated that we never seem to ask the difficult questions when something like this occurs.  Having someone murder twenty children and six adults in a school building is a failure that as a nation we should be ashamed of and it is high time we address it for what it is.

A failure.

Those of us who make a living dealing with failures know a few things to be true; if you want to mitigate or eliminate failures you must take the time to identify all of the potential causes. Managing the effects of a failure (Cleaning up spilled oil on coastlines) does absolutely nothing to ensure a failure will not reoccur, and the most difficult failures to resolve are human related, random and sporadic. Most important however is to understand that this failure will continue to occur unless the causes are identified and eliminated.  And, every corny saying used by RCA instructors is true in this case.

  • If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.
  • Albert Einstein, known for being one of the smartest men in history defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
  • Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.

I also know a problem or failure will never be resolved unless we first have to discipline to put the right group of people in a room that have the courage to sit down, identify the problem, its causes, and the steps that need to be taken to protect our children and ensure something like this never happens again.

In the early 1300’s a Roman Catholic Philosopher by the name of William of Occam is credited with developing the maxim known as Occam’s Razor.  In the most simple terms, Occam’s Razor boils down to the philosophy that the simplest explanation or solution is the best one.   A great example of this is the fire triangle, while we can and often do install incredibly complex and expensive fire suppression systems, the simplest and most effective way to protect yourself from fire is make sure one of the following items is not present;

  1. Fuel Source
  2. Oxygen
  3. Ignition Source

In regard to today’s awful events we should think not only about this failure and its potential causes, we should think about the shame we all should feel for not protecting these innocent children, the long term consequences this event will have on this town but more important we should look to begin thinking in terms of way Albert Einstein and William of Occam and what they might have done to ensure this problem is forever a part of our past.

So, looking at this failure like in the terms of a fire triangle, what does it take for a school shooting to take place?

  1. A deranged person or people
  2. A firearm
  3. Ammunition
  4. An unsecure school building

Take one of the four items away and the event can’t occur.  It’s time to be honest about what really matters and how we plan to ensure the safety of our next generation.

5 Responses to Connecticut School Shooting – It’s Time to Eliminate Failures

  1. patrick ohearn says:

    great point Doug. unfortunately the polictical arguement won’t get past the gun. a school security FMEA would make a lot of sence

    • DPlucky says:

      Pat – I posted this on FB well before I posted it to my blog and got some nice responses as well. Most people in the general public have no idea what people like us do let alone how we do it. I think the same could hold true in Government/Law Inforcement/Schools and all they ever want to do is “put out the fire” instead of looking for ways to keep it from starting to begin with. A good FMEA could do just that!

  2. Ken Buffington says:


    Sad, but true. We were just having this discussion last night. As one of your RCM Blitz facilitators, we started by agreeing with Patrick’s comment. The weapon of choice, would be way in the beginning of the causal chain of the problem. However, would be the stopping point of the political frenzy. It is a shame that we cannot get past that point and move into a common mode of thinking such as the model you presented above.

    I feel change is coming after this event and pray common sense prevails in the analysis and decision making when it comes to finding ways to mitigate or remediate the effects of these travisties in order to protect our children and educators.

    • DPlucky says:

      Ken – The sad thing is, looking at this from my perspective, it’s really not much different than what we see in a real facilitation. People walk into a room, state what they believe to be the problem and then jump immediately to a solution that may not have any impact on the real problem. As a culture we like to deal with effects because the effect or consequence is what generates the emotion to act when in reality the problem and failure mode that caused it could be several effects back.

      Thanks for following, reading and replying! Let’s hope for once our country takes a different look at this very real problem!

  3. Don Warner says:

    Hi Doug,

    Your comments hit the center of the target and are much appreciated!

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