Top critical review
73 people found this helpful
Dissappointing and Frankly Not Very Helpful
on March 27, 2011
I'm the fourth reviewer here and I see the first three all rated this book 5 stars. So let me be the first to offer an alternative opinion. This book had the potential to be really good and I bought it and began reading it with eagerness and high expectations. The subtitle of the book is "The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong". That is a fascinating and important topic that I don't think gets enough airplay. Unfortunately this book doesn't do much to change that situation. It's not what the book was really about and the parts of it that are would have been better covered in a magazine article instead of 250 pages of prose.
For example chapters 4 and 5 were on medical mistakes and aviation mistakes respectively. While the information in them about how those industries deal with mistakes might be interesting, how are either of those relevant to "The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong"? By her own account the aviation industry is incredibly safe and so a whole chapter on how it became safer seems irrelevant to the topic of her book. Is the airline industry "Better by Mistake"?
Chapter 6 is on the topic of gender differences. This chapter was confusing to me. First of all much of it is irrelevant to the topic of her book and just seems to be a way to slip into publication her view that gender differences are exaggerated. She goes on and on about the difference in the way men and women react to mistakes while seeming to want to minimize gender differences. I finished the chapter thinking huh?
Chapter 7 is on cultural differences. It's actually interesting but once again it is tangential to the alleged topic of the book. Both on cultural and gender differences she repeatedly plays politically correct by claiming no way is more right than another, but then I have ask what was the point all the discussion? Pointing out all the different ways people respond to mistakes and saying they all have advantages and disadvantages ends up just being banal.
Chapter 8 is on apologies. Once again there is some interesting analysis here and it wasn't boring to read. But if one assumes that the mistake requires an apology, how are we "better" by having made it? Who wins? We may be better for having made an apology but the logic that says we are better for having made a mistake that needs an apology just seems wrong to me.
This was not a bad book, but I believe the title is seriously misleading and caused me to buy a book that quite frankly is not what I was looking for. It's not practical and just raises more questions than it answers. You would think I would have given it one star as a result. Like I said, it is not a bad book and if what I describe here is what you are looking for then by all means go for it. If you are looking for practical advice on how to let yourself or others become "Better by Mistake", then I think you should skip it.