This page collates various series of posts by Steven Shorrock on

Four Kinds of Thinking

Understanding and intervention for system performance and human wellbeing is rooted – to some extent – in four kinds of thinking. In this short series, I outline these.

  1. Humanistic thinking
  2. Systems thinking
  3. Critical thinking (forthcoming)
  4. Design thinking (forthcoming)

What Human Factors isn’t

‘Human Factors’ (or Ergonomics) is often presented as something that it’s not, or as something that is only a small part of the whole. Rather than just explain what Human Factors is, in this sporadic series of short posts I explain what it isn’t. The posts outline a number of myths, misunderstandings, and false equivalencies. In this series:

  1. What Human Factors isn’t: 1. Common Sense
  2. What Human Factors isn’t: 2. Courtesy and Civility at Work
  3. What Human Factors isn’t: 3. Off-the-shelf Behaviour Modification Training
  4. What Human Factors isn’t: 4. A cause of accidents

Four Kinds of Human Factors

This is a series on four kinds of ‘Human Factors’ seem to exist in our minds, each with somewhat different meanings and – perhaps – implications.

  1. The Human Factor
  2. Factors of Humans
  3. Factors Affecting Humans
  4. Socio-Technical System Interaction

The Varieties and Archetypes of Human Work

This is a series of posts on The Archetypes of Human Work, which are based on the interactions or relationships between The Varieties of Human Work.

  1. The Messy Reality
  2. Congruence
  3. Taboo
  4. Ignorance and Fantasy
  5. Projection
  6. P.R. and Subterfuge
  7. Defunct

Proxies for Work-as-Done

In any attempt to understand or intervene in the design and conduct of work, we can consider several kinds of ‘work’. We are not usually considering actual purposeful activity – work-as-done. Rather, we use ‘proxies’ for work-as-done as the basis for understanding and intervention. In this series of short posts, I outline briefly some of these proxies. (See here for a fuller introduction to the series.)

  1. Work-as-Imagined
  2. Work-as-Prescribed
  3. Work-as-Disclosed
  4. Work-as-Analysed
  5. Work-as-Observed
  6. Work-as-Simulated
  7. Work-as-Instructed
  8. Work-as-Measured
  9. Work-as-Judged

System Safety: Foes and Friends

In this short series, I highlight seven foes and seven friends of system safety, both for explanation and intervention. Each is a concept, meme, or device used in thinking, language, and intervention (reinforced by more fundamental foes that act as barriers to thinking). They are not the only foes or friends, of course, but they are significant ones that either crop up regularly in discussions and writings about safety, or else – in the case of friends – should do.

  1. Seven foes of explanation in system safety
  2. Seven foes of intervention in system safety
  3. Seven friends of explanation in system safety 
  4. Seven friends of intervention in system safety 

Work and How to Survive It

This is a series reflecting on excerpts from Life and How To Survive It, by the psychotherapist Robin Skynner and the comedian John Cleese, with some reflections on work and organisations. 

  1. Work and how to survive it: Lesson 1. Understand ‘how work goes’
  2. Work and how to survive it: Lesson 2. Understand variation inside your organisation
  3. Work and how to survive it: Lesson 3. Encourage the whole self
  4. [Ongoing]

Inquiries from the Edge

This series comprises podcasts and transcripts of interviews with figures from different spheres of practice, on the subject of human work.

Human Factors at the Fringe

In this series, I reflect on productions from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that somehow relate to human relationships with technology and with others, and that connected with me.