What To Do when Things Go Wrong – An Ethical Solution

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IEE06-oops.pdf

What do you do when a piece of equipment fails, a contract is breached, or a design is challenged? Engineering training is focused on how to design or analyze a piece of equipment, but seldom involves skills necessary to resolve disputes or discrepancies. Occasionally things go awry. There are at least 10 issues that impact the decision to proceed with a failure case: Objective, Ethics, People, Time, Money, Technology, Quality, Safety, Environment, and Legal. The impact of these on a project is investigated in various contexts. A flowchart is proposed as a guide. A process of using them to evaluate the project is then developed. The first part is the technical issues: stop loss, gather data, determine origin, find cause, conduct analysis, research outside influence, and develop an opinion. The non-technical process is determining whether to recover or move on. Frequently, by following this analysis, problems can be mitigated before catastrophe. If there is a major event, the analysis provides a technique to evaluate the cost and make appropriate economic decisions.

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