Tag Archives: complexity

Sex and poetry

file000500940833None of us said anything for a while. At the other end of the table was a safety manager for a construction company. I had just described some ideas on how to do safety differently. -No. What we need is to find the right way to do it. Once we have that, we’ll put it into practice across every project. I had tried to explain why safety can never be achieved with a one size fits all solution. And I had described why … Continue Reading ››

Tinker, Taylor…

The old English nursery rhyme "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor" was adapted as title for John LeCarre's 1974 spy novel. Its main character, George Smiley, first fired, then reinstated, is the Beggar Man of the rhyme. At some point, he is involved in an operation called "Witchcraft", forcing a Soviet mole to reveal his identity. Smiley, naturally, becomes the hero. I have often written of a hero of our engineered world, Isaac Newton. He, after all, conceived of a world of laws and determinacy, a predictable world … Continue Reading ››

The evil of roots

file0002103473231 Transportation officials said Wednesday that the driver of the Green Line train that crashed into another trolley docked at the Boylston Street Station last week was “solely responsible” for the accident and that he would be fired. Accidents are surprising. That which previously was trustworthy, suddenly no longer is. And the mismatch between expectations and actual performance calls for an explanation. To learn from failures organisations and societies institute accident investigations. The task of such probes is traditionally … Continue Reading ››

Two sides to every control

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have been reading a thought-provoking book, Adapt (Why success always starts with failure) by Tim Harford.  While it isn't a book on safety there is much to learn from Tim.  He argues that today's challenges simply cannot be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinion.  The world has become far too unpredictable, and profoundly complex.  Tim argues that instead we must learn to adapt. He uses many real life events, strategies and organisations to illustrate his … Continue Reading ››