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Credit: Alessandro Valli

If you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner this week, did you know that you’re operating in a complex system?

One of my favorite parts of writing Meltdown was connecting it to the everyday.

My coauthor András Tilcsik and I drew the central idea of the book from a Yale sociologist named Charles Perrow. By studying the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown and other large-scale disasters, Perrow and his researchers identified complexity and tight coupling (a lack of slack in the system) as major contributors to systems failures.

András and I extended Perrow’s thought-provoking framework. Our observation was that the world was becoming increasingly complex and interconnected and that the things that made nuclear power plants risky were showing up in lots of other parts of our lives. …


Chris Clearfield

Host of The Breakdown™ podcast. Co-author of MELTDOWN, a book on why our systems fail & what we can do about it. A lot, it turns out.

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