A systems approach… Systems Engineering can help healthcare and maybe Bible translation too?

In a fascinating lecture from my alma mater (Trinity Hall, Cambridge), Professor John Clarkson talks through how he cut his teeth on engineering challenges that gave him a ‘systems approach’ to all kinds of other problems. He applies what he’s learned to a process for improving healthcare.

I think there’s something here for Bible Translators to learn from too, since often we are aware that we could and we must do things better.

One of my favourite quotes from this is around 40 minutes in: ‘Common sense is not common’. The other quote I love is ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ I think that’s often what I as a translation consultant am trying to do when translators propose a particular translation. ‘How could someone possibly misunderstand or misuse this?’

What are the engineering questions?

  • How can we do it better?
  • What could possibly go wrong?

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