In my earlier post:

‘Out Damn’d spot!’ – the bloodstains of Jo Savage on the S-R newsroom floor won’t go away

I used a colleague’s article on critical thinking skills that will be published in the January 2010 issue of The Futurist Magazine – “Deciding Our Futures.”  His article is titled, “Decision Making Under Pressure.“  (Link to article)  This is a very good read.  This is only for your noncommercial use unless you purchased it from the Futurist site below.

Deciding Our Futures
As the world becomes more complex, the likelihood of making poor decisions about our future increases, as does the cost of bad outcomes.
This special section offers insights from futurists on ways that we can come to grips with the flaws in our decision-making processes and improve our strategies for making critical decisions about the future. PDF Available.
Decision Making Under Pressure by Stan Shapiro
Decision Modeling by The Futures Group International
Robust Decision Making: Coping with Uncertainty by Robert J. Lempert, Steven W. Popper, and Steven C. Bankes
Managing Your Mind by Michael J. Mauboussin

Link to Dr. Stan Shapiro’s personal website on critical thinking skills, ER Think:

I used his example of the shuttle disaster as a familiar event to aid in the understanding of the death of Jo Savage in the RPS Parking Garage:

Decision makers . . . have a lot of responsibility and must quickly sort through complex data and information.  The RPS Bond Fraud et al and the Savage manslaughter cases are not as complex as they may first appear.  These cases are about the failure of critical thinking skills and ignoring of relative risk by our governmental decision makers. Let me remind you of a similar story that will give a familiar frame of reference from which to review the information I’m about to present.

A colleague of mine wrote an essay,  “Shuttle Thinking,” that will appear soon as a feature article in an upcoming national business journal.  The key point of the article is that even high-level management teams like NASA can succumb to fatally flawed decision-making when it comes to evaluating risk.  The Columbia shuttle disaster involved pieces of foam breaking off from the external fuel tank – striking a very critical area of the shuttle’s left wing that eventually caused the catastrophic shuttle failure and the death of seven astronauts upon re-entry.  Similar foam failures had occurred on numerous shuttle missions prior to Columbia, to the point that it became an accepted normal event. NASA engineers failed to recognize this structural failure as a risk.   Because each prior foam event seemed to be minor, with no consequences, the engineers were emboldened ⎯ to continue to roll the dice.  With each subsequent flight, the risk went unappreciated until that rare event occurred when, in the case of the Space Shuttle Columbia; the foam broke off and struck a vital area of the shuttle’s left wing.    Keep rolling the dice and it will eventually come up craps.  NASA management gambled and lost.

The Savage manslaughter case is an almost identical situation to the Space Shuttle cases. These parking structure barriers were failing with regularity, the RPS Parking Garage owners knew the barriers were failing, and RPS management chose to gamble our community’s safety by doing nothing.  Similar to the NASA management — doing nothing worked— but only for a while.  Because of the continued negligence of the garage owners, eventually another parking structure barrier failed — only this time, it resulted in the tragic death of Ms. Savage.  The owners gambled—only this time, it was Jo Savage and her family that lost.