System Safety: Seven Foes of Explanation

In this short series, I will 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.

Bonding and Bridging at the Philosophical Breakfast Club

On 26 April 2018, I presented at the ‘Philosophical Breakfast Club’ (@philosophicalBC) conference on High Performing Teams (#PBCHPT2018). It was a remarkable conference bringing together healthcare professionals, psychologists, sports scientists, athletes, managers, human factors/ergonomics specialists, military officers and specialists, and others, My first conversation while having tea before the conference was with a spinal surgeon and bomb disposal expert. Throughout the conference I had many other fascinating conversations with people from a diverse range of backgrounds.

This leads me to the focus of my talk: collaboration at the interfaces, and what happens between teams, groups, professions, layers of management, organisations…  In this post, I summarise the talk, slide by slide, with tweet-sized explanations.

The Varieties of Human Work

The analysis of work cannot be limited to work as prescribed in procedures etc (le travail prescrit), nor to the observation of work actually done (le travail réalisé). Similarly, it cannot be limited to work as we imagine it, nor work as people talk about it. Only by considering all four of these varieties of human work can we hope to understand what’s going on.