Tag Archives: practice

Why do things go right?

Photo by Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa on Unsplash
In his 2014 Safety I and Safety II: The past and future of safety management, Erik Hollnagel makes the argument that we should not (just) try to stop things from going wrong. Instead, we need to understand why most things go right, and then ensure that as much as possible indeed goes right. It seems so obvious. Yet it is light years away from how most organizations … Continue Reading ››

Rush to judgment

In our rush to judgment we rarely intend to do harm. Often, we react to incomplete or even scant information, fit it into our own mental model of how things should be and then jump to conclusions that could inflict harm. Last week, CBS Morning News showed a film clip of a man snagging a baseball from a kid who was sitting directly in front of him. The less than 10 second clip resulted in the vilification of … Continue Reading ››

A Short Introduction to Human and Organizational Performance (HOP) and Learning Teams

A Convenient Story  “Well, that’s a convenient story,” the company CEO bleared at me through his watery spectacled eyes.   This man was tired.  Not “I didn’t sleep enough last night” tired; he was “I haven’t slept well in 20 years” tired.  Those eyes had seen too many cross faces in the board room, too many hours of a flickering computer screen, too many blurry digital displays reading 3AM, and now they were pointedly fixed on me. “You’re trying to prove … Continue Reading ››

Just culture: Who are we really afraid of?

When we think about just culture, we usually think about accidents and incidents, associated ‘honest mistakes’ and ‘negligence’ (by whatever name), as well as official responses to these, at company and judicial level. The notion of just culture is driven partly by fear; fear of being judged and blamed, especially fear of being blamed unfairly. The fear is felt most strongly by operational staff, who are at the sharp end of organisations and have sometimes faced disciplinary … Continue Reading ››

Why focus on conditions?

We have long struggled with trying to capture the facts associated with an accident in order to prevent the next one. This has been largely effective when applied to machines. In mechanical systems things are measurable, observable and more objective. The information we get from people is always subjective. There are always issues of memory, shame, fear and politics that influence the ever-changing stories we tell. If you think about it, you have probably altered a story to … Continue Reading ››

Speaking Truth to Power

  “They tell us to do these things, but they don’t want to know how we get them done.” Others in the focus group nodded in agreement. Myself, I was taken a bit aback by the statement. I was facilitating the focus group with the intention of learning about the organization and how it manages safety. We had been speaking with many of the line employees who expressed varying degrees of frustration with different aspects of the work environment, … Continue Reading ››

Safety Differently @ Laing O’Rourke

treesfrombelowWhat have you done to enable safety differently in your organisation? In Laing O’Rourke we were very fortunate to have a leadership team that acknowledged our organisation’s health and safety performance had plateaued and were willing to explore and test new ways of working.   This was against the current industry approach to health and safety which we recognised as high in bureaucracy and overly controlling and sceptical in its approach to building trust amongst all … Continue Reading ››

Safety audits differently

auditSafety audits have become central to safety management and governance. However, many organisations have noted that safety audits may have limited usefulness and some problematic consequences. People I’ve spoken with have raised concerns that:
  • audits may not get a ‘true picture’ of what is going on
  • some projects suffer from audit overload
  • audits may damage cultures of trust
  • audits may drive a commitment to creating acceptable images of work, rather than improving the primary process that the audits are supposed to … Continue Reading ››

Coaching Differently

Basketball Tree 1 I have the great opportunity to coach my sons’ youth basketball teams and have done so now for about 6 years. As my sons age, the various age groups present new and interesting challenges and opportunities. In the early part of each season I search around on-line for advice and try to read about things to do and things not to do. While that is good, I’m realizing the best learning opportunity is right … Continue Reading ››

3 Realities for Second Class Industries

class systemThe safety advancements in industries like aviation, nuclear power and healthcare have been nothing short of extraordinary. In many ways, these industries have become the shining examples of what safety should be. These areas are by no way perfect and have room for advancement but there is a tendency for progressive and innovative thinking to be specific to these industries. However, we have lost our way in thinking that these are the only agencies where innovation can occur. … Continue Reading ››