When General Stanley McChrystal took over the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in Iraq during the mid-2000s, he inherited an organisation struggling to overcome the Al Qaeda insurgency plaguing the country. After a few weeks in the job, he realised his new team had been viewing their enemy through the wrong lens, and therefore had been using the wrong strategies to defeat them. Ultimately, this insight led him to … Continue Reading ››
It’s 4PM and a container ship is getting ready to depart from port. The crew has had a long day going through an intensive safety audit with a company superintendent onboard. Now the mate is dealing with last minute cargo manifests. Cargo lashing is still not completed by the shore gangs. The engineers are waiting to test the main engines but for this the gangway needs to be cleared off from the quayside. The … Continue Reading ››
Understanding how Australian, or indeed international corporations fare with regards to Human and Organisational Performance (HOP) requires us to reflect upon both what we measure and what optimal performance looks like.
The term Human and Organisational Performance describes the interactions and interdependencies of humans and organisa- tions in the execution of work. Used within a professional practice context, it has come to be paradigmatic of a broad range of relativ- ist and … Continue Reading ››
I hear lots of people saying how much they like the principles of safety differently, but just do not know how, or where to start with this as none of the books tell you how to do it.
As my time at London Luton Airport draws to a close, I’m going to try to summarise the journey from a traditional approach into embracing a new focus based on the safety differently framework.
When I first started at Luton, there … Continue Reading ››
Over the past two decades, safety resourcing, focus, and intervention have been subjugated by performance management dogma, contending that “safety” can only be present as an expression of its measurement in a zero harm paradigm. Within this paradigm, and my observations across numerous … Continue Reading ››
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 ››
I spoke at the Oil and Gas Task Force Zero conference 2018 not long ago. Taking the motto of the conference, “Face the Facts,” to heart, I walked the audience through a bunch of recent data from a range of industries on the relationship between injuries/incidents and fatalities. As we have long known (and as has been confirmed by Macondo, Texas City and other disasters in the industry), there is of course no meaningful relationship between … Continue Reading ››
One of my favourite articles is The Complexity of Failure written by Sidney Dekker, Paul Cilliers, and Jan-Hendrik Hofmeyr. In this posting I'd like to shed more light on the contributions of Paul Cillliers.
Sir’, he said in a pale voice. ‘It was 59 degrees in the engine room that afternoon and I took my helmet off. Not for too long, sir, just a few minutes. I was standing under the blower to cool my head. And then this safety officer comes to me and starts shouting. “Why are you not wearing your helmet? What if you get injured? Who will be responsible for your safety? Did I not … Continue Reading ››
Lincoln Eldrige, who probably wouldn’t want to be called a ‘safety professional,’ suggested to me some years ago that the safety profession is like a priesthood. I have always considered this an intriguing assertion, and finally decided to dig into it a bit more. What I found was fascinating parallels between belief systems that manage anxieties and hopes even a post-secular world, and the credentialism of a new priesthood that is (self-)ordained to assuage and inspire those … Continue Reading ››