Unavoidable Fact for Quality FailureThe number one unavoidable FACT for quality failure — albeit preventable—is FORGETTING.

German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus studied this unavoidable phenomenon and, in 1885, established the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve that measures the rate of information and time lapse that humans tend to FORGET.

Did you know—within one hour, humans forget half of the information they study or hear?  Moreover, humans forget two-thirds of previously learned information within 24 hours. These shocking statistics of human forgetfulness is a FACT for which all businesses must contend daily.

In other words, mistakes, miscommunication and chaos in business are all due to HUMAN FORGETTING.

All too often, people excuse their errors with, “Sorry, mistakes happen!”  Or, “It’s not MY fault, I’m only human!”

Thankfully, airline companies don’t give in to human error!

The Unavoidable Fact for Quality Failure is Preventable

The good news is, this unavoidable fact for quality failure should not be an excuse for poor quality. This human condition of forgetting is FIXABLE!

To be sure, with a SYSTEM of Quality Assurance, and a CAPA (Corrective Action/Preventive Action) follow-up, HUMAN ERROR excuses are, again, fixable.

In fact, all GREAT businesses use these exact quality systems for drastically reducing human errors, as well as system errors. It’s the continual improvement quest for reducing ALL errors to zero.

In addition, tools that help the human condition of forgetfulness are ones that PROMPT action. Prompts, i.e. checklists and computer software etc., remind and trigger human memory.

Forgetting Info for Which You’ve Paid to Learn

Remember traveling and paying good money to attend seminars and conferences, to receive the latest information for how to improve your business? And, while sitting in those seminars, remember how excited you were about the speaker’s information.  You couldn’t wait to get home and use what you learned. In fact, you took your speaker’s PowerPoint printouts home in order to make good use.

HOWEVER, as time slipped by, most of what you learned was long-forgotten, and the information NEVER gained a foothold to improve your business.

Why do you think that happened? Truth is, its forgotten information; therefore, having no value.

All new information to improve a business MUST be added through a series of prompts that call for action. Otherwise, use of the information is happenstance.

To be fair, the new equipment you saw while attending a convention may have been a big improvement. But was a systematic preventive maintenance program added to someone’s daily routine checklist? In fact, a new piece of equipment affects several systems. Think about it.

The Unavoidable Fact of Forgetting is Pooh-Poohed

Sadly, in many small businesses, you often find owners disregarding human forgetfulness by declaring, “We don’t need good systems, all we need is GOOD PEOPLE! To be sure, any person operating a business long enough knows, even GOOD PEOPLE MAKE STUPID MISTAKES.

Using the System Buster Locator, aka CAPA mentioned above, we’ve PROVED that the most talented people made the most errors, when relying ONLY on their experience and talent.

Whereas, with a checklist tool prompting memory, we found that less experienced employees made fewer mistakes.


Less experienced employees relied on the prompting tool, i.e. quality assured checklist. In fact, less experienced employees embraced quality systems; whereas, the more experienced and talented employees opposed prompting tools.

It seems they were more willing to risk errors, than to admit they could use some prompting to do the job RIGHT!  Go figure!

Thankfully, the airlines don’t give talented experienced pilots the option of NOT using a checklist prompting tool. One that eliminates the risk of human forgetfulness.

Did I mention? Great systems work and don’t forget!