Missing Bullet Holes

During World War II, a group of statisticians was asked to find ways to reduce the number of American airplanes that didn’t return from missions. After studying bullet-hole patterns in aircrafts that returned from missions, the idea was to add more armor to the areas of the planes where they had been hit the most—wings, fuel system, and fuselage— but, oddly enough, not on the engines, which had the smallest number of bullet holes per square meter.

Then, one statistician asked an interesting question: Where are the missing bullet holes—the ones that would be all over the engine if bullets were equally distributed? The answer was obvious: The missing bullet holes were on the planes that had been shot down and hadn’t returned. The critical part of a plane was not where most of the bullet holes were on the returning planes. It was where the bullet holes were on the planes that were shot down.

Where are the missing bullet holes in your organization?

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/GNeesam

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