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Design and plan for problems

It is traditionally known as Murphy's Law; if something could go wrong, it will go wrong.  
The inference from knowledge of this is to imagine what could go wrong, then plan to deal with that.  And here's where O.R. has a role to play.  Help people to make decisions, help them to evaluate strategies, help them to design better systems, and then help them to build protection around these pieces of advice.  This could be ways to prevent problems, or design ways to deal with them if they happen.
I was reminded of this essential lesson in a few ways over the last few days.  Tim Harford, writing for the Financial Times and the "i" newspaper, had a column "The power of negative thinking ", subtitled "Government could learn from city design about planning for the future ". He opened with the design of road signs which are increasingly being mounted on slip bases so that the uprights break away easily if hit by a vehicle.  If something could go wrong.…

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