Tag Archives: humanistic psychology

Learning Teams, Learning from Communities

Over the last decade, I have spent a lot of time listening to operational, technical, specialist, support and managerial staff in small groups around Europe. The conversations – aimed at learning about safety – have changed over the years. What started off as strongly facilitated workshops to interrogate safety culture questionnaire results, became only loosely based on questionnaire results, and more on what mattered to participants, but still with predetermined issues in mind. Finally, the conversations became much more open still. … Continue Reading ››

‘Bureaucratic entrepreneurism’ and the growing ‘mental health crisis’ at work

Remember when you could go on company travel and just book the trip? Not anymore. You probably have to do a seven-page risk assessment (whether the trip takes you to the next town over, or to central Africa), which will have to be approved by the next three levels up, and get signatures from all those levels. It is an example of what has sometimes been referred to as ‘bureaucratic entrepreneurism’ (Dekker, 2014). Bureaucracies tend to grow … Continue Reading ››

Stop doing, start being

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A little while ago, I participated in a workshop for CEOs discussing health and safety matters. We did the usual workshop thing of breaking into table discussions and feeding back to the group in time-honoured fashion. It is relatively rare to bring together such a large group of influencers, so I was looking forward to the output and the opportunity it could give to drive wholesale improvements across a number of businesses and … Continue Reading ››

The case for small data

smallbigIt is reasonable for management to want evidence of a problem before they put resources into fixing it, and we would like to be evidence driven ourselves. All too often, though, we assume that having good data means having more data. We live in the time of Big data where the value of some companies is measured in terms of the size of the data set they hold. Our phones collect and report our habits, … Continue Reading ››

Weak and invisible safety leadership?

photo-1444312645910-ffa973656ebaEvery now and then I meet people who claim that what is needed to improve safety is ‘strong and visible safety leadership’. I sort of get what they mean with ‘visible leadership’ (that leaders can be seen doing the right things), but the rest is confusing. Strong? How strong exactly? Strong in order to do what? What do you mean by ‘leadership’? And what do you mean by ‘safety’ anyway? Further exploration of the idea … Continue Reading ››

People are the solution

peoplearethesolutionI once ran some focus groups on a mine site. The goal was to identify conditions that made work difficult. One of the issues that the workforce identified was that “Work is difficult when you drive at night and you can’t see signage, rocks, and other traffic”. After having presented this and other findings to the project employees during a prestart meeting, one of the truckies came up to me and said: “Let me know if you … Continue Reading ››

From Darkness to Wholeness

file000221896694Last month (May) was Mental Health Awareness month. Mental health is a topic that pokes up in the media every once in a while, perhaps most prominently with the recent Germanwings crash that involved a pilot with a purported mental illness intentionally crashing his plane into a mountain, killing all passengers and crew. Naturally after events and others like it (such as when someone goes on a shooting spree, which we seem to get more than our … Continue Reading ››

Moths to a Flame

DSCF4945In a land far, far away a very long time ago someone had an idea and tried to do something different with safety.

For my sins I started my career in safety working for the UK government. To be fair this was back in the 70s and 80s when the 1974 Robens inspired Act was starting to be felt and the proposed legislation on major hazard sites would see the end of the prescriptive nature … Continue Reading ››

If it weren’t for the people…

shorrock people"If only it weren’t for the people, the goddamned people,” said Finnerty,“always getting tangled up in the machinery. If it weren’t for them, earth would be an engineer’s paradise.” In Kurt Vonnegut’s dystopian novel ‘Player Piano’, automation has replaced most human labour. Anything that can be automated, is automated. Ordinary people have been robbed of their work, and with it purpose, meaning and satisfaction, leaving the managers, scientists and engineers to run the show. Dr Paul Proteus … Continue Reading ››