The way we frame things matters. People are relative thinkers: more, a lot, and sorta—only matter when we ask, compared to what?
One framing is words. Vegetables, innovations, saving and investing, solitary confinement, and designated driver all affect our actions. This idea was brought up in a NYT piece on Avalanche School:
“As we packed up our notebooks and travel mugs, however, I wondered why these case studies were called accidents. To call these deaths and burials accidents implicitly perpetuated the idea that the randomness of nature was the killer, not the shortsightedness, cowardice or hubris of people.”Heidi Julavits
This approach to auto ‘accidents’ comes up in Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic too. Names matter.
Jocko Willink developed “extreme ownership” as an accident antidote. With avalanche accidents and auto-accidents we externalize the blame. It wasn’t my fault. But Willink’s idea enters and synchs our history to our actions. Sometimes it’s a weak coupling, but it’s never an absent one. We hurried, and we got sloppy, and the odds tipped against us.
If we were to extend the idea names matter and affect how we understand the world we’d get something like the movie Arrival.
We believe in design and words are one tool in that collection.
1 thought on “What is an accident?”
[…] The theme here is relativity. People are relative thinkers; see corporate greed or cheating college. Words matter because they frame our approach. Listen closely. Consider the focus. Do the words hint at who was at fault? If this were a movie why is this the script? Need to change how people understand something, or apply some extreme ownership? […]