Learning from Titan tragedy

THE world was shocked by news of the Titan submersible imploding recently.

Five wealthy adventurers on board, including the founder and chief executive officer of the United States-based company which operated the sub and charged US$250,000 (RM1.1mil) per person to visit the century-old Titanic wreck, perished in the tragedy last month.

These individuals were highly accomplished in their respective fields and admired for their ability to make successful life choices.

With their remarkable wealth and achievements, they undoubtedly possessed the mindset that many of us aspire to attain.

It is crucial that we learn from this incident by understanding what influenced their decision to embark on this ill-fated voyage in a sub described by one expert as “a dodgy piece of technology”.

Applying Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats method, which is based on effective decision-making observations, to analyse their decision, it is likely that they considered various perspectives either consciously or otherwise.

They probably started with the blue hat (metacognition and organisation) to evaluate their participation in the expedition, and the green hat (creativity and alternatives) to recognise the groundbreaking nature of the sub. This was emphasised by the CEO, who said his invention “shouldn’t take a lot of skill” to reach Titanic depths.

It looks like the group’s judgement may have been influenced by the red hat (intuition and emotions) and the yellow hat (positive thinking and benefits). The potential rewards and excitement of being part of such a historic exploration might have clouded their reasoning.

Those who chose not to join the doomed expedition may have placed more importance on the black hat (critical thinking and caution), which raised design concerns about the use of off-the-shelf parts and expired materials, thus raising safety concerns.

They also considered the white hat (facts and information), which revealed that although the sub had previous successful descents, its quality was not assessed and certified.

According to the Six Thinking Hats method, the timing and sequence of these thinking perspectives can impact decision-making processes. So, could a different thinking sequence have saved them?

We must question whether we are effectively learning the application of different thinking sequences in critical decision-making processes and whether we are imparting that knowledge to our children, particularly at the tertiary level.

By incorporating such education, we can extract valuable lessons from history while courageously pioneering new technologies and fearlessly venturing into unexplored territories for the betterment of humanity.


Adjunct professor

UCSI University

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