• The Sinking of Titanic from a Quality Perspective

The Sinking of Titanic from a Quality Perspective


Mark D. Brown, Director of Quality, Elbit Systems America, Pflugerville, TX, USA


Root Cause, Ishikawa Diagram, Calamity of Errors





The tragic tale of Titanic is most commonly associated with the collision with an iceberg. Whether as depicted in the recent Hollywood blockbuster movie, or the major news sources of the time have - all focused primarily on the iceberg.

While there is no disputing the contributing factor of the iceberg, there were many other circumstances (Mother Nature, Design/Requirements, Human factors, Training gaps, Leadership Assumptions, Materials, etc.) that led up to the collision, sinking and ultimately large fatality totals. In fact, there was a calamity of errors, and circumstances that worked together to create the perfect storm.

In this briefing, we take a look at over 30 circumstances, acts of Mother Nature, miscalculations and human error that played key roles in the sinking of the Titanic. We also take a look at how a few could have either prevented the tragedy or greatly minimized it’s ultimate scope.

While we know a great deal more today about the tragedy of Titanic, there are still many mysteries, unanswered questions and theories under debate. The material used in this briefing has been collected over a number of years, and through a variety of sources. It uses many of the most commonly held facts, along with well-researched theories. It looks at the tragedy through the lens of a Quality Professional, seeking to understand and reveal the root cause.

At the completion of this briefing, you will gain a unique perspective on the Titanic tragedy. It is hoped you will also see lessons learned that you can apply to your own profession and industry. Learning from the Titanic, and preventing such events in the future is the best way I know to honor the fallen.