Medical error is the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. Why do medical errors kill over 250,000 people a year? Because healthcare has become so complex, with things like the adverse drug interactions of taking multiple medications, that it’s easy to make mistakes.

When things are complex the likelihood of making a mistake is much greater.

The more complex we make Risk Management, the more likely we make mistakes. Risk Management doesn’t have to be complex. In fact you can even manage risk with something as simple as M&Ms.

Van Halen used M&Ms as a way to ensure each concert venue was set up to their specification.

Within their contract they requested a bowl of M&Ms for the dressing room, with all of the brown M&Ms removed. This required the concert producer to read the entire Contract, since it was buried in the middle, and have people physically had to remove all the brown M&Ms from the bowl. when the band got to the dressing room they would check to see if there were any brown M&Ms. if they found brown M&Ms they would make a big scene by trashing the dressing room.

Now this request of no brown M&Ms wasn’t because they were prima donnas, but instead helped ensure a great concert for the fans and protect the safety of the band.

In one instance the producer caused about half a million dollars of damage to an arena because they didn’t properly reinforce the floor for the weight of the stage. It was unsafe for the band to perform under that situation and how did they know before they took the stage? Brown M&Ms in the dressing room.

Instead of being so concerned with details, and making things so complex, we need to take the lead of Van Halen and keep it simple.

We manage risk better without all the complexity that can lead to simple errors.

To get the full back story directly from David Lee Roth, check out this video:

Brown M&Ms from Van Halen on Vimeo.


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