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Does Failure breed Success?

We explore why nations fail, why diplomacy fails and why design fails, and ask if failure can be the starting point for success.

This week on the Forum: on the anniversary of one of the most spectacular failures in history – the sinking of the luxury cruise ship The Titanic in April 1912 – we take a look at failure and what we can learn from it.

Parag Khanna, a leading geo-strategist, explores the failure of diplomacy in our modern age and calls for more independent negotiators.

Turkish economist Daron Acemoglu argues that a nations' economic failure is not down to culture or geography, but due to economic institutions that are authoritarian and designed to benefit the elite.

And American engineer Henry Petroski explains why he believes failure to imagine the possibility of failure is the most common mistake engineers make and that this attitude can be traced to be the cause of many major disasters.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: can we learn form the failure of nation states, diplomats and engineering?

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Sun 15 Apr 2012 11:05GMT


  • Part 1

    Parag Khanna

    Duration: 13:44

  • Daron Acemoglu

    Daron Acemoglu

    Duration: 09:16

  • Part 2 60 Second Idea

    Teach a new subject at schools; learning to lose

    Duration: 06:35

  • Henry Petroski

    Henry Petroski

    Duration: 10:55