AIC 2010 Notes: “Blink Twice: Making Mistakes in Conservation”

“Blink Twice: Making Mistakes in Conservation”

Michele Marincola, Sherman Fairchild Chairman and Professor of Conservation, Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts New York University

Thurs., May 13, 2010, 3:05-3:25 p.m.

Michele Marincola presented an interesting paper on why mistakes are made and how we may be able to reduce them in our practice. Mistakes fall into two general categories, mistakes of ignorance and mistakes of planning or performance.

Mistakes of ignorance are due to incomplete or false information. They are common to people learning new skills and in small or rapidly expanding knowledge systems.

Mistakes of planning or performance occur happen for many reasons. Complex problems are solved by using past experiences, these may not fit the situation at hand. When we are asking our brain to do many things at once, it is easy to forget critical steps. Too much information can cause confusion, more data does not necessarily mean better solutions. The key to good decisions is not knowledge but understanding.

Marincola broke down prevention strategies into two categories, institutional solutions and individual solutions. From the institutional standpoint she urges us to admit our mistakes, share information openly, reward staff when they admit errors rather than punishing them, and refrain from finger pointing. Individuals can share case studies of errors, be aware of your thought processes, build in pause points when you can review your work, use your intuition wisely, create and use checklists, collaborate, and give and ask for feedback.

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