About the Book

Whack-a-Mole: The Price We Pay For Expecting Perfection explores the role of human error in society, from aviation and healthcare, to driving and parenting—and where accountability rests for those errors, especially when they take the life of another. David Marx argues that regulatory and human resource prohibitions, along with the criminal prosecution of human error, have been counter-productive to helping society deal with the risks and consequences of human fallibility. Marx advocates a different approach to addressing our shared fallibility.


Optimal Outcomes Require a Different Brand of Accountability

A financial meltdown. A rash of airliner crashes. Cities caught off guard by predictable natural disasters. An under-serving, error-prone healthcare system. What do they have in common? “Everything,” says David Marx, author of Whack-a-Mole: The Price We Pay For Expecting Perfection.

There are common threads—in how we set expectations, how we design systems, how we hold each other accountable—at both the governmental and individual level.

Marx, CEO of Outcome Engenuity, has been an observer of, and advisor to, high consequence industries around the world for nearly 30 years. He’s convinced we’ve taken a bad turn with our preoccupation with perfection. “We are expecting more and getting less,” says Marx.

Using insightful and often humorous stories, Marx writes to regulators, attorneys, corporate CEOs, public policy makers, the media and even parents. Whack-a-Mole focuses on society’s tendency to demonize people who make mistakes that cause harm, while at the same time taking a “no harm, no foul” approach to reckless behaviors that cause no undesirable outcome. “Our screwed-up notions of accountability are becoming an insurmountable barrier to better outcomes,” says Marx. “It has simply devolved into a game of Whack-a-Mole.”


Whack-a-Mole Book Addresses Health Care Reform: Retire the Medical Malpractice System Altogether

President Barack Obama said it’s time for America to build on what works and throw out what does not. Author David Marx wants President Obama to keep his word when it comes to medical malpractice reform.

In his book, Whack-a-Mole: The Price We Pay for Expecting Perfection, system safety engineer and legal scholar David Marx proposes that we re-evaluate the basic existence of the medical malpractice system, just as New Zealand did more than 30 years ago.

“New Zealanders willingly gave up their right to sue their doctor,” says Marx. “They chose instead to accept a national responsibility to care for those who were injured.”

Americans all want a safer healthcare system, and they all want a remedy to be provided for those it harms. Marx believes the current malpractice system isn’t well suited to either of these goals.

“It’s misplaced faith to believe that the current American malpractice system does a good job at addressing either problem,” says Marx. “The medical malpractice system, by design, demonizes faithful healthcare servants simply because of their predictable human fallibility. It’s an injustice to our nation’s providers and comes at a high price to the lives of patients” he said.

With President Obama’s offer to conduct pilots for malpractice reform, Marx’s book makes a compelling case for why retirement of the system just might be one reform to pilot.