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It won’t happen again

When a woman complained about being sent photos of her deceased son even though she had asked for the full file, the Ministry of Justice apologised and said it had changed its processes to ensure that never happened again.

A Google search of world news reveals that in just the past three days, at least 20 organisations around the world used the same set of words to say the same thing.

The meaning of these familiar words has been transformed by our experience of the many other disasters and mistakes in which they’re used. That is, the problems DO happen again.

So when you repeat those words, people conclude that it will happen again.

If you want to be believed, you must choose unfamiliar sets of words and be specific.

That’s what the MOJ did. It said that in future all families requesting complete files would be informed explicitly what was contained in them and asked what they wanted included.

Unfortunately, because the MOJ media statement primarily focussed on the ineffectual formula, that is what most media carried.

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