Stop the job – An eight part series with Dr Robert Long on culture and learning (3/8)

June 22, 2023



In this podcast, Dr Rob Long and Dr Pedro Ferreira discuss the ritual of ‘stop the job’. ‘Stop the job’ is a tool to empower people at work to stop the continuity of an operation if they feel it is not safe to continue any longer. How does the idea of empowering someone and trusting their intuition and decision work in practice?

Further information



Nippin Anand, Pedro Ferreira, Rob Long


Nippin Anand  00:00

Hello and welcome to embracing differences with me Nippin Anand, founder of novellus, a podcast series dedicated to understanding different perspectives about how we as human beings, or rather, social beings make decisions.


Nippin Anand  00:18

The podcast series draws from different disciplines including religion, mythology, sociology, anthropology, social psychology, biology, neurosciences and stem, making it truly transdisciplinary meaning transporting her rather travelling across disciplines. The idea is not to claim that one method or discipline is superior to the other, but to hold competing disciplines, competing values, diverse perspectives, intention. And when that happens, we create space for doubt and reflection. The idea is to enjoy travelling and the ambiguity that comes with it. Experiencing dissonance discomfort, how else do we learn? This is the podcast on understanding cultural safety, culture and how we as human beings learn with Dr. Robert long. Now in this podcast, we discuss the idea of stop the job met. Dr. Robert long and Dr. Pedro Ferreira discussed the ritual of stop the job. Stop the job is a tool to empower people at work to stop the continuity of an operation, if they feel it is not safe to continue any longer. How does that idea of empowering someone and trusting their intuition and decision work in practice? Let’s hear from both of them.


Rob Long  01:52

I thought your comments are so powerful because most of the people who get upset at me or and some people hate me, or they imagine I’m something else. They’ve never met me. They’ve never read anything. And even if they read it, they don’t know it. Well. And this is strange fear. I don’t know what it is simply because I said something like, I can’t see any difference between the ritual of the coloured box and the ritual of crossing a forehead. And just like, you think that works. Okay, have that good, good. But don’t tell me that the guy who just went and had that done is more stupid. It’s not about intelligence, faith, transcends intelligence. I’m not saying to scientists, you’re stupid. And you’re not saying to me, I’m stupid. I’m just saying that I can’t see a difference between the methodology and the ritual and whatever and the trust and the hope that these coloured boxes will keep you save, then a bunch of seafarers who have a superstition that something will keep them safe at sea. And I think, Oh, I can’t think of anything more superstitious than seafarers, you can go back 3000 years, to rituals that seafarers have believing that that ritual and fairly religious rituals to will keep them safe and see what’s the difference? And then we hold up a risk assessment. Oh, here’s my risk assessment. And the coloured boxes are there. And I’ve done this and the bow ties done and the Swiss cheese is in there and the pyramids done. And I’m looking all this thinking. I can’t see the difference. Yep. This is faith. And but then I get engineers say to me, oh, oh, I don’t understand that. I just I find it quite unusual.


Pedro Ferreira  03:53

I just I just came back to something that you will also discussing with Nippin Nippin. About what you enter the ID you gave about entertaining doubt. Yes. And it brought to mind something that at some point was quite popular in particularly large organisations, which was referred to as the stop the job


Rob Long  04:15

of the CEO, the command he has stopped. So the principle


Pedro Ferreira  04:18

is that if a worker anywhere is not confident, yes, doubt, yeah, that’s right. It has doubt that he should be he should feel authorised to stop


Rob Long  04:30

edge. Yeah, that’s very common. That thing? Yeah. It doesn’t happen. But


Pedro Ferreira  04:34

yeah, it’s interesting, how many things? It’s a good it’s a sound principle. Yes. When you start to think about how many things need to be in place for this to be consistent with the culture with the reality of the Yes, yes. It starts to question so many things. Yes. And the fact that it the interesting thing to our conversation is that That demands that the person takes that step in faith.


Rob Long  05:04

Yes, yes. True. The step in faith, the leap of faith, that’s the same thing. Yes.


Pedro Ferreira  05:11

And it’s worlds apart from the reality of any organisation who has tried to put Yes, please. Yes. Yes. And I’ve seen that examples of that were people who actually took that to heart and stopped the job. Yes. And one of them. In one case I’ve followed relatively close to the person got fired. Yes, yes. Because it was considered Well, there was no good reason for you to do that. Yes, yes, you could do but there was no good reason for you to do yes. And he was fired. Yes. Where’s the rationale,


Rob Long  05:48

my son, my son works in building and construction. And he says to me, with, with companies that say this, the moment the concrete is in the trucks and it’s on the road, to your job, Doc Steel’s in place, the form works in place, the plumbing is in place the electricals all in place, the crane is ready to go, the concrete pumps ready to go that the concrete is on the road. Everyone knows that if at that moment, you have a doubt on the conversation that you will waste 250,000 or $300,000. Because you can’t throw that concrete away. And he says to me, Dad, no one at that moment will stop the job for any reason. So the slogan becomes meaningless. Because it actually doesn’t mean stop the job. It means stop the job when it’s convenient. Yeah. And then if you call it at the wrong time, of course, your friend got sacked. He challenged the mythology, or but here’s the word mythology or muscle missing the word that slogans a myth. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Nippin Anand  07:09

Do you have any questions, any feedback, any comments, any criticism, you can always write to us, you can write to me personally, at support@novellus.solutions. You can also leave a message for us on our website novellus.solutions. You can email me personally at Nippin@novellus.solutions and you can find me on LinkedIn. Until then, have a good day. For those of you who are interested to understand culture, safety, culture and the concept of learning, or rather how we as human beings learn, we have a workshop coming up in Stavanger in Norway, from the fourth to the sixth of October. The the idea of this workshop is to give some practical methods and tools using the framework of social psychology of risk to help people become our I would say rather say leaders become a little bit more deliberate and strategic about understanding and influencing culture. So you can expect a lot of practical exercises, group work, tools, methods that would actually help you to understand culture. I hope you can join us there is all the details on our website novellus.solutions/events. Please check it out. And we hope you can make it and we would love to have you with us.