Why faith matters for managing risk?

Take the first step in faith   Do not look at the full staircase.   Just take the first step.   Martin Luther King Jr.   Returning home from the UK Chamber of Shipping Conference where I met some old friends and had a wonderful evening and some stimulating conversations about #safetyculture.   As I […]

Locked in your worldview? How language influences culture and change

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Brief summary of the article Machinery errors are often reported and perceived as a problem of machinery. By framing machinery as the cause of its own failure we are trapped in our worldview (culture). All language is metaphorical i.e., culturally situated and unless we understand the hidden biases in our language, we will remain trapped […]

Ask the expert: How metaphors influence culture

Many organisations commonly use the word ‘steering committee’ or ‘steering group’ without realising the power of language, metaphors, the unconscious mind, and culture. ‘Steering’ means giving direction, knowing where we are, and where we are headed, and being in authority and control. ‘Steering’ is associated with vehicles (cars, buses, ships etc.). A steering committee or […]

Do we really understand normal work? The power of the unconscious mind

Understanding work

At the start of this year, I interviewed a young seafarer for a podcast who fell eight meters deep into a steel tank on a ship and suffered multiple fractures on his leg. I started by asked him, “John, would you like to tell me about yourself?” And from his opening sentence, I observed a […]

Situating meaning in accidents: a seafarer’s story

John W Soria

In March 2017, a young Filipino seafarer, John William Soria, suffered life-threatening injuries when he slipped and fell eight meters deep into a ship’s steel tank, lost consciousness and came close to experiencing death in an accident that would change his life forever. Five years later, I interviewed him to understand what meaning he makes […]

Archetypes of Safety Professionals

Some thoughts on creating a learning organisation Ronald: Captain we have an inspection today, the inspector will be arriving soon. Captain: OK, Ronald. Leave two fire extinguishers out in the alleyway, that will keep him busy. Ronald: Understood Captain. Later, an inspection is carried out, and true to the instinct of the captain, a non-conformance […]

Are safety reporting systems creating heroes and villains?

Can you relate with the two communication styles in the picture below? If not, do not waste your time reading this article. If you do, and you are wondering what’s wrong with it, let’s continue.   Over the years, a specific pattern of organisational communication has caught my attention – our tendency to explain away […]

Psychological safety or trust in competence: The Costa Concordia case

In March 2017, I travelled to Sorrento to meet with Francesco Schettino, the captain of the passenger ship Costa Concordia that capsized off the coast of Italy. I was plainly curious to understand his perspective about the accident. During our four days of interaction, I discovered that Francesco had a strong opinion about why people […]

The power of deep listening: a personal story

I am a brown-skinned man and I have spent most of my working life in the ‘civilized world’ world as an ethnic minority. Listening to other people’s perspectives, paying attention to their words and gestures, acknowledging their presence and needs, and being curious about what others have to say was not my usual reaction perhaps […]

Learning from what goes well: Another tactic to milk the cow?

In learning from everyday work, we need to first approach workers as human beings.Nippin Anand, a former Master Mariner, reminds us of the importance of understanding human needs before we can understand what’s working well. A few months ago, I visited a ship all excited to put my knowledge about ‘learning from what goes well’ […]

Should we hold the handrail? Risk and Safety in COVID times

“The greatest enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”  – J.F. Kennedy “OK, stay safe, look after yourself and as you go down, be careful, don’t touch the handrails.” Those were the words of a ship manager whom I […]

Conflicts within and without: Learning from the Costa Concordia case

When Costa Concordia sank, the Captain’s actions came under the spotlight. But what was the context of his decision to sail past Giglio island? Former Master Mariner Nippin Anand interviewed Captain Francesco Schettino and uncovered goal conflicts that are woven into the industry, and were not unique to that tragic day.