The power of mandala
It’s almost 3am, I am wide awake after a trip to Asia and I’m juggling with so many competing and troubling thoughts. I decided to draw a mandala. The term mandala means circle, and thinking in mandalas gives us balance, perspective and inner peace. During my travels, I met a 24 years old Cyprian […]
From surprise to normalise: How can we become culturally intelligent?
It’s 19:30 and four officers including the captain appear in the ship’s messroom. The captain rings a hand bell to call the messman and asks him to serve them food. As the messman is leaving, the captain says, “Edvin, turn off the music in the galley, don’t you see we are eating.” The dinner timing […]
Women in Safety
Until yesterday, I was stuck with a question: Why do so many women in safety give up their feminine ethics and fall for masculinity and power? Today I spoke with an Indian woman seafarer Sarika (name anonymised). Within the first few minutes she says, “it’s not easy to work with all males at […]
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
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
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
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 […]