Category Archives: Steven Shorrock

The principles of punk rock at work

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout the time I was born, a new musical genre emerged. Disillusioned with the rock music scene of the ’70s, a new music was created in the garages of the Western world: punk rock. What’s that got to do with work, or safety? With punk rock came an ideology that we could learn from. I recently read Seth Kahn-Egan’s distillation of the principles of punk rock, derived from his “own research into and experience with punk … Continue Reading ››

The use and abuse of ‘human error’

"Oh my God. I told those guys at safety that it was dangerous and one day we would lose concentration and pay for it. I already told those guys at safety that it was very dangerous! We are human and this can happen to us. This curve is inhuman!" These are the distressed words of the injured train driver moments after the train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, northern Spain on 25 July 2013. The driver can be heard pleading in sorrow, hoping for the safety … Continue Reading ››

Goats in sheep pens

file0001763601813When I was younger, my family had a smallholding with a few animals including chickens, ducks, geese, and few goats - one or two billies and several nannies. Thinking back to these goats made me think about what they can teach us about work in command-and-control organisations. The characteristics of goats, especially curiosity, independence and foraging behaviour, highlight to me how command and control organisations need goat thinkers - constructive rebels including systems thinkers, design thinkers, and humanistic … Continue Reading ››

Risky empathy

if you want to understand riskI saw this poster in an airport some time ago. It is an advert for an insurance company and shows a person in a helicopter with a note, "One thing, if you want to understand risk, you need to get out from behind your desk".  How connected are safety specialists with operational staff and the operational environment, where the day-to-day safety is created, to understand the operational world? How much of our … Continue Reading ››