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Safety Is All About Learning with David East

Dr Nippin Anand_The Power of Organizational Learning

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Join us to explore the profound lessons and our understanding of safety in high-risk fields with our special guest, David East. In this episode, he brings his deep expertise in Human & Organizational Performance to discuss critical risks, learning from incidents, and the interconnected factors behind them. Drawing on examples from aviation and his experience in the Royal Australian Air Force, David shares his insights on transitioning to a learning zone, emphasizing that safety is all about learning. Tune in to gain valuable insights!

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Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe, yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is the Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized ops and safety guru, public speaker and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now. 

Hi, and welcome to the Safety Guru. Today, I’m very excited to have with me David East. He’s an Air Force veteran from the Royal Australian Air Force, as you’re going to hear from his accent very soon, has made a career out of it, but also a huge thought leader in the human factors, human performance space, and hop. So, David, welcome to the show. Very excited to have you with me. 

 Good morning, Eric. Thanks for having me, mate. 

 Great. Let’s start out by your passion in safety. How did it start? Where did your journey begin? 

 Yeah, my background. I joined the Air Force in the mid ’90s as an aircraft technician. I’ve been working around planes my entire career. I worked for 10 years fixing planes. Then I changed over to crew as a flight engineer and a load master on C-130s. Now, my safety journey. It has been an interesting one because when I was young in my early 20s, safety was the furthest from my mind. I don’t know how I didn’t hurt myself more than I ever did. I got through it pretty well, injury-free. But as a young fellow, I didn’t really care too much about safety and just did what I needed to do to comply. It wasn’t until I became an expert That I really started thinking, All right, now I’m in the back of this plane a lot. I have a lot to do with the outcome of this flight, of what we’re doing. I better start paying some attention. But the critical thing that happened to me was I became a human factors instructor, well, facilitator. I was put through the human factors course. Back then it was called CRM, the crew Resource Management. Now we call it NTS, Non-Technical Skills. 

That really got me on the road to safety. It’s all about education. Now, how have I gotten to the point where I’m super passionate about safety? Just realizing some gaps within the workforce. They’re not big gaps. It wasn’t because people didn’t care. I was able to influence people in the safety space and the human factor space, and I enjoyed it. I started my side hustle, and I still do a lot of work within the Air Force around safety. I just find a passion, and it works. 

 One of the things we’ve had several guests come on the show with background in Aviation Air Force. One of the things that I know when we first spoke is you really advocate for a more proactive approach to safety, which I think is so critical. Tell me a little bit more about how we learn from events, but even before an incident happens. 

 Learning from events, that’s really important, isn’t it? It’s the fourth principle of learning and improving is vital. Within defense, everywhere that you go, pretty well has a pretty good safety suite on their software system. Defenses are really good. We have a very good We report everything from the very serious incidents right down to the miners. That safety suite is fantastic. It’s got a lot of data in there. But how do we learn from that? But actually, I From time to time, I have an issue with how we learn from that. Because often what happens is the safety representative within your workplace will normally just send an email. But here’s the critical safety events that have This occurred this month, this quarter, this year. We are supposed to then just read that email and glean the lessons learned from it. I don’t find that as a very good way to learn at all. I think to learn in the safety space, it really is about face-to-face. You’ve got to get face-to-face with people, whether it’s a facilitated session or just having conversations in the crew room with other workers, other people, and just start talking about incidents and see where the conversation goes. 

 That’s where the real learning happens. That, I often find also doesn’t happen as well as it used to, especially around the junior. In defense, we call it we’re all aviators. We run around the junior aviators, that crew room discussion on safety topics just doesn’t happen. We’re generally just learning by osmosis through one or two courses where we learn one or two case studies. And that’s about it. I like to keep the risk conversation alive. Matt Confer from corner industries in the US. He’s coined the term sticky, which is stuff that can kill you. And that’s fantastic. If you go to junior aviators and say, all right, let’s talk about the stuff that can kill you while you’re doing this job, while you’re out there on a Hercules doing an engine change or whatever job it is that you’re doing, what are the risks? What can kill you? A lot of young people, they don’t know. They’re like, oh, I don’t know. You’ve really got to drive that conversation, haven’t you? But once you get them used to those conversations, let’s have a sticky conversation. They understand the risks and they get to own the risks. 

 That helps them learn a whole lot more than an email of the aviation safety accidents that have occurred in the last period. 

 I think one of the things learning, you’ve got a good point that it’s got to be very immersive. It can’t just be an email. One of the things I’ve seen is at least when it is communication, this was in aviation, it’s very targeted to who receives it. If you’re flying a certain type of aircraft and the issue has to do with that certain type of aircraft, those are the people that receive it. Whereas in business, often it’s these mass broadcast, so you get flutter with a lot of things that don’t relate to your job as an example. But the other element is learning from things like the near misses you talked about, some of the little things. In business, I was talking to one audience not too long ago, and we’re just translating it for an aviation, a crash is equivalent. It’s a serious event, just like you would consider a siff event on the ground. At ground level, you’re thinking about serious injuries or fatalities. Is the big thing that could go horribly wrong. But too often people are learning from the cuts, the scrapes, the bruise, fingernails. They’re looking at trends that have no correlation with serious events, and they’re not opening the door to all the other things that may be going. 

 So, they’re not fixing the real issues. 

 It all comes down to, I think if you want to learn from those minor events, you need to understand the controls that are in place and to find out if those controls are effective, I guess, don’t you? Yeah, right. Also, with your point, you talked about how aviation, you might get specific to a specific aircraft type, whereas business, you just get a broad shotgun approach. That’s really interesting because the question is asked, how does this relate to me and how can I relate it to me? That’s a very difficult thing to do. I think we have a very strong reliance on rules and procedures, admin controls. We think that they are the critical controls that are going to save us from a serious incident. I think we also… A lot of organizations, the Air Force, we have a very strong, just culture. 

 Yeah, that’s a key component, right? 

 It’s predominantly no blame, and we try to learn from it, of course, and that’s important. But we still don’t… I was talking about those sticky conversations. We still don’t understand the critical risks and the critical risk controls. We don’t understand why they’re there. If they’re engineering controls, especially, sometimes they’re obvious, but sometimes they’re not. If you’re a brand-new aviator on the flight line and you see a brand-new piece of equipment, you don’t understand why it is built or designed in a particular way. Sometimes because the lessons learned have been built into that vehicle, hopefully, so the critical controls on it work and it makes it simplified. But we need to, from the executive level, top-down management. It’s important. Of course, it’s important. But top-down, they want us to make sure that we’re following rules, which, of course, is important. Those controls are important. But The guys on the floor, they’re going to follow a procedure. Therefore, they’re going to follow the rules, of course. But it’s not until they understand the critical controls and the critical risks. So, when something goes wrong, they’re the ones that have the ideas that can fix that, and they can understand it better. 

 Because if something goes wrong, it’s going to be the worker that’s out there doing the job that’s going to get hurt, isn’t it? We don’t want them to carry that extra risk. We want them to understand it so they can work with it, work around it, and hopefully, fix those that risk, those critical controls. So that next time someone has an accident, hopefully, the outcome is a horrible SIF event or an aircraft crash, hopefully it’s just something minor. When we get the plane on the ground or someone just has a minor injury, and we talk about all these minor events and don’t have a lot of big things to talk about. But that’s a utopian world, isn’t it? 

 Yeah, but it’s something we can strive for. I do believe you can eliminate aviation. You can eliminate serious events. If we look at aviation, I was pulling up some stats in the US several years back, and In the 1960s and 1970s, on commercial aviation, there was roughly one person dying every second to third day. To last 15 years, where only three people in commercial aviation lost their lives. That’s a substantial difference in outcome. If you focus on the right things, you can drive the right bike and it becomes, essentially. 

 I completely agree. You know the aircraft that I predominantly have worked on, the Hercules in Australian Air Force, we have never had We’ve had a fatal accident with him. We’ve been flying him since the late ’50s, early ’60s, I think it’s been with the early. 

 It’s an old plan. We’ve updated the aircraft. 

 Of course. I would hope so. Never had a fatal accident with them, which is a fantastic record. 

 There is a lot of… Obviously, our publication suite, it’s a live document. It’s developed over the years. It brings in live rules. The training is fantastic. We trust it. Another big thing is we trust our aviators to fly them. You might have a junior in their early 20s, a guy, girl in their early 20s flying that plane. We put a lot of trust. That’s the same in all aviation, isn’t it? You train them, you put a lot of trust in them to do the right thing. Aviation is just one of those industries where it’s just done really, really well. 

 Absolutely. You touched briefly on the topic of just culture. Tell me more, because that’s a very key component to get to the near miss reporting so that you can build the learning culture. It’s something that I think a lot of businesses still struggle with because it’s this element of, I need to learn, I understand that, but is there an element of accountability and how do I balance this through just culture? 

 It’s just a word, isn’t it? Just culture. It means a lot. It means that we need to… If something does go wrong, that there is effectively no blame around it, but there also needs to be accountability, and that’s super, super important. 

 That’s the key thing. 

 It is. Blame fixes nothing. Error is normal and blame fixes nothing are the first two principles. And everyone understands that, and everyone can look at them and go, Yeah, that makes sense. But it’s not until you really get into them and try to understand what happens. So, I’m very big on the brain body contract. What happens to a person in their mind and physiologically when something goes wrong and someone points the finger at them, because that hurts. It really does. It wipes down deep. And that’s a core memory that you will keep forever because it brings out an emotion, doesn’t it? A lot of people think that because it’s a no-blame culture, they’re not going to get in trouble. And that’s well as much as far as it’s going to go. But what you get then is you get a lower level of accountability. So, you get people that are just cruising along. They’re just in a happy zone, and they don’t really mind what happens to them. It’s not until you give them… Sure, you’ve got the no blame, but until there’s some motivation, are you motivated to do your job? And guess what? 

 If something does happen, there’s going to be some accountability. Definitely, if you’ve done something wrong, if there’s a violation 100% there’s going to be some accountability. But we need to be accountable for what happens when something does get wrong. And what happens then, if there’s too much accountability and no blame, you have people living in fear of I’m going to work. I don’t want to get in trouble for doing something. But if there’s a healthier level of psychological safety and emotional intelligence around it and a healthier level of motivation and accountability, then what you get, you get yourself up to the top level where you’re really in that learning space. I’m happy to take the hit. I’m happy to put my hand up and say, hey, look, I actually made a mistake there. That was my fault. And this is why I made that mistake. I didn’t follow the procedure. The control was wrong. Whatever led to that mistake happening or whatever the outcome of that mistake was, if it was a bad one, let’s learn from that. But get yourself out of the cruisy zone, get yourself out of the fear zone, and get yourself above all those, and get yourself into that learning zone Where, yeah, I’ll take full responsibility or not necessarily take full responsibility. 

 I’m just a worker. Error is normal. But what was the outcome of that error and what can we learn from it? So that when that error happens again, and it will, probably by me, how do we make sure that no one actually gets hurt by that? And once we’re in that learning zone, you’ve got Then you’ve got a true just culture. It’s important that it’s done correctly. 

 I think one way I lived, somebody was explaining it in a prior episode, is that there’s just culture Sure, it’s about removing blame, but there’s still accountability. Because with the two pilots, there’s very strong accountability on each other that’s built. You touched on CRM. CRM is really about building that accountability, the communication between each other. There’s peer-to-peer accountability that sets in. But the position and length of the choice of words is that there’s still a consequence. But the consequence doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a negative. It may just be We discovered there’s a gap in our training, or maybe you need more training in this particular scenario. We’re going to put you in a simulator with scenarios that are similar around it. You get to walk away and there’s no conversation, essentially. It’s just we want to learn from anything that can happen because when you’re in the air, it’s highly unforgiving if something happens. We learn from it, but there could still be a consequence, just not a negative punishment in the way we normally talk about it. It’s not that we’re avoiding termination or things like that, although it’s much more about the learning that happens there. 

 This episode of the Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, re-energize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions, Propulo has you covered. Visit us at propulo.com. 

 I’ll tell you one thing I got to do which was fantastic. I’ve been an air crew for many years, but for the last three or four years, I’ve been on the ground doing ground-remanded roles. One of those roles was working with the safety management system within the support system of an airfield. We’re talking about the people who load aircraft, aviation, firefighters, aviation refuelers, and the people that run the fuel farm and all the fuel systems throughout the base. We got to introduce some human factors and got to introduce some safety training courses to that workforce, which was fantastic. It was the best job I’ve It was cool. But there was one crew that worked at the fuel farm, which is where we store all the fuel, the jet fuel. The fuel farm at this base, it’s fairly old. It was built in the 1970s when we bought F-111s because we needed a significant amount of fuel to run those things. They’re awesome jets. It started to show its age. Still works, of course, but it was starting to show its age. By me, What I mean started to show its age, a weld would start to leak. 

 It might just be a pinprick leak. They’d have to fix that, for example. The guys that worked there, they lived in fear. Their accountability was really high, and the blame was really high as well. 

 Whenever something wrong- Which is not good. 

 These guys had only worked there for a year or two, we’re getting caned for it. I rolled in with a couple of my colleagues, and we made a learning team, effectively, which was, this is not an investigation. There is no blame. There are no punitive measures to be taken here. We just want to understand what is happening in your workplace. We put it on a whiteboard, and I said, Let’s learning 10 is, what are your issues? We’re not going to talk about solutions. I only want to hear the problems. And of course, I let them have a pretty good whinge. But the outcome was we got a really good list on the whiteboard of some of the real issues that this problem, that This place was facing. Some of them were admin-based, some of them were engineering, etc. And from that, I was able to go to the commanding officer with this list and say, hey, sir, look, this is what is happening at your fuel farm. He goes, okay, I didn’t fully understand it. I knew we had a problem, but I never fully understood it. From there, they were able… Six or eight weeks later, we had the DG Log, the Director General of Logistics. 

 The guy in charge of logistics for the Air Force. The equivalent for America would be like a two-star general for logistics. He came out and they let… Actually, let one of the younger fellows there explain to him some of the issues because he was the one that understood it. He was really nervous, but he did a great job and explained what was going wrong here. He went, Cool. Now I understand it. He helped with funding to help fix it, and they prepared that. A lot of it, actually, they haven’t just They’ve prepared it. They’ve put in a system to rebuild the whole thing anyway because they need more capacity. That’s a classic example of how going into a workforce and saying, we’re not here to punish you. We’re here to learn and understand. The outcome of that was absolutely fantastic. I saw one of those guys a couple of months ago in Emblem when I was up there, and he said, oh, look, what we started back then was fantastic. I’ve been working around this industry for 10 years, and that day that When you came in and started talking to us in a learning fashion was the turning point. 

 That’s what I put out to everyone. It’s just having a conversation and just try to understand the controls, what’s fouling and how you can fix them. 

 So simple yet so powerful. 

 It’s just human interaction face-to-face. It is powerful, isn’t it? 

 How do you shift leaders’ mindsets around this? You talked about this environment that was previously very high accountability, very high blame. How do you shift mindsets around this? 

 That is a good question, Eric. I don’t know. To be honest, I will be completely honest. I haven’t yet had 100% success in shifting a leader’s mindset as an enduring to an enduring level. I will be honest with that. Maybe it’s my personality. But I think the hot principles, I’ve been through the hop principles with a bunch of leaders, and they resonate with them. But it is so easy. It’s human nature to go back to… It’s very easy. We are hardwired to blame people. We are. You just watch any movie throughout all of our history, we are very hardwired to blame people and to hurt people, unfortunately. I don’t know why that is. 

 But it’s also easier, right? Because the last point of failure is a person. Yes, normally. Even if you go precondition right before that failure, then you’ll get to something that’s maybe they were fatigued, they were stressed, which again, you could easily say, Well, you were the one who’s supposed to sleep, as opposed to for me to really understand the chain of causality, how the system factors came in, all the various things that caused this person maybe to be fatigued and make this error, or the gaps in the training, That’s a lot harder. 

 It is. There will always be a human at the end of it, won’t there? Yes, as you said, given the fact that we come up with these systems in our mind, we invent them, we design them, we manage them, We operate them. We are heavily involved in everything. That’s the human nature. I guess when we are hardwired to blame, when we are hardwired to want to find someone to pin this on so it doesn’t come back to them or the C-suite or the executive suite, it’s all about I guess that’s why I like the hot principles, because so many times I’ve been able to go to my management and say, Hang on, now your response to failure really matters. We had a failure this morning, and the way you responded was probably You need some coaching on how to deal with that response better because you didn’t handle it really well, because those people that were involved in that incident or accident, who really had nothing to do with why it happened, but they were the ones that were the last ones to touch it. You actually made them feel pretty bad about that. But having said that, if you’ve got someone… 

 My current boss is actually quite good, a very intelligent person. He’s super intelligent. A lot of the times you’ll find that people who are super smart haven’t got very good social skills. Well, this guy has actually found the way to have pretty good social skills, so it leads his team pretty well. He sets us up with a level of trust, and that’s what it comes down to. He trusts the worker. I work in an office environment, but we plan missions for all of the AMG aircraft, air mobility aircraft, all the transport aircraft. We plan all the missions. There are so many things that can go wrong with the mission, even in our planning phase. He trusts. There might be a brand-new operations officer who’s straight out of training. They do a couple of weeks of training, and they’ve got someone beside them. They’ve got a little wingman to help them out. But he gives them a level of trust that a lot of young people would never have in executing that mission to make sure it goes off. He can make some decisions at 10:00 PM at night when a C17 breaks down in America that other 21-year-olds might freak out about completely. 

 But if something were to go wrong with that, the next morning when he finds out about it, he’s like, Yeah, okay, that happens. That’s completely okay. What can we learn from it? 

 Which is a red response. 

 It’s perfect. But that has been… I introduced the whole principles to him a number of years ago, and I drive them on him. I hold him accountable for those principles. Hey, you said you like these things, and your response to failure matters. And now his response to failure is quite good. It’s excellent because no one feels punitive like measures from that, which is fantastic. So, it’s a lot about you’re The question was, how do you get leaders to really look after their teams, to not want to be the blame and punishment people? It’s just about having a champion that gets in their face all the time and holds them accountable because that is super important. So once again, it comes back to face-to-face communication and relationships, doesn’t it? Often hard to do because often you don’t have access to all of the executive team, do you? So, you’ve got to be the right person, right person, right place, using the right equipment. It really, really helps. And who understands the big picture. And who can be held accountable when something goes wrong. Yeah, that’s important as well. 

 But I think it starts with a level of ownership that’s very strong. To be able to do this, you have to take very strong ownership of the role and responsibilities and also the flaws. I think as well, the element that I’ve seen, unfortunately, in some organizations, they will take something like hop and say, blame fixes nothing, and use it as a transference of blame. Instead of blaming the employee, now I’m blaming the senior leaders, because the senior leaders created the system that allowed it. But it’s not about shifting blame, it’s about learning. That blame fixes nothing is about just let’s understand the full system and all the interdependencies that are connected. 

 I know. It is so funny how you said, they don’t blame that person, but they blame the next level up. We love to find someone to blame them. 

 We love to, yes. Unfortunately, it’s convenient. It solves a lot of issues when you simply blame. But I think the other element is it’s not about absence of accountability because I think that’s one area where I’ve seen a lot of leader’s struggles. I don’t fire people. I remember I had one person I talked to, and he says, Yeah, we have a great safety program. We call it an at-will safety program. You make a mistake, I fire you. That’s the extreme level of blame. Yes, you’re not going to hear about a single thing that went wrong. You’re just going to have calamities after calamities if you take that approach. But you still have accountability. I would argue that the level of safety ownership I’ve seen in aviation is much higher than anywhere else. That comes from a high level of personal accountability and team accountability between the pilots as well. 

 I’ve got a friend who works for a construction company, and she says that… I’ve done a little bit of work with a few companies outside of my own, with my own business as well. Yeah, you see this all the time. But blame and punishment is just everywhere. It’s a thing. It is very challenging to change that mindset from the top down. Whereas from the bottom up, they’re like, Yeah, we love this mindset. This is great. We don’t want to get punished. But it needs to come from the top down, I guess, doesn’t it? It probably needs to be both. But anyway, my friend has been able to convince the executives for her construction company of the hot principles and learning teams and the 4Ds and having sticky conversations. They said, Yeah, cool. We really love what you’re talking about. It resonates with us. Here’s the red carpet. They basically rolled out this massive, long red carpet for her program and said, Yeah, make that happen. We will support you 100%, which is fantastic. Imagine that. If every Hot professional had that treatment, they’d be very, very happy. I track her I talk to her quite often and say, hey, how is it going? 

 Is it actually working? Because, yeah, are the hop principles, are they just a philosophy? Or are they something- They have to be more than that to work. To be meaningful. 

 They absolutely do, Eric. Are they just a philosophy or are they just a set of values? Or is there some real meat in it that is actually beneficial? She says, no, it actually does work. The workers love the approach where they know when the safety person comes in, they’re not going to get in trouble. They’re not going to be talked about all the things that went wrong. She talks about all the things that go right What is working well, and talk about the critical controls which the workers… She has helped the workers understand what isn’t happening right. And they love that approach because there’s no, hey, look, this happens, so don’t do Make sure you wear your proper PPE. They don’t have those conversations because they don’t have to, because they really trust the workers. And that trust works both ways. And the company seems to be doing really well as a result, which is fantastic. 

 That’s cool. David, thank you very much for your thoughts and insights on HOP and some of your experience from aviation in the military. Any closing thoughts for us? 

 I’ll just reiterate the point. If you want to be a good safety leader, just get out face to face, talk to people, understand them, understand the critical controls, understand the critical risks, and help your workers do the same. You’ve got a whole system of safety behind you. You can use that whenever you need to. But if you have that approach, I think you can do better in the safety world. So good luck in doing it. Eric, thanks for your opportunity for doing this today. It’s been good fun. 

 Good. And if somebody wants to get in touch with you, how can they do that? 

 LinkedIn is best by David East. And I’ve got, because there’s a thousand David Easts in the world, mine’s got a little hand emoji beside it, so I stick out. So, feel free to get in touch. I love having these conversations with like-minded folk and also non-like-minded folk who are happy to challenge me and challenge some of these principles because those conversations are always interesting as well. I have drunk some of the cool aid, but it’s not the only way. There are many ways to do safety. This is just the way that works for me. Happy to have those conversations. It’s good fun. 

 Thank you. Safety is about learning. I think that’s the big takeaway. 

 That’s what makes it sexy, Eric. Actually, safety can’t be sexy. Anyway, thanks, buddy. 

Awesome. Thank you so much, David. Really appreciate it. 

 Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-suite Radio. Leave a legacy. Distinguish yourself from the past. Grow your success. Capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at execsafetycoach.com. Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo Consulting.   

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ABOUT THE GUEST

David East is an accomplished Human Performance, Safety Management System & Leadership Consultant with a passion for enhancing workplace cultures, safety systems and optimising human potential. With extensive experience in multiple industries, he operates CrewFusion, a consultancy offering comprehensive training, facilitation, and advice to organisations seeking to improve cultural, safety & leadership practices across any workplace setting.

David’s expertise lies in developing and maintaining robust Safety Management Systems, and he is particularly specialised in the aviation sector. However, his diverse background also includes successful engagements in construction, emergency services, logistics, and healthcare safety systems. His broad industry knowledge allows him to adapt his skills and insights to meet the unique challenges and requirements of any sector.

While running a successful consultancy business, David continues a career in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Beginning as an Aircraft Technician, he worked hard to rise through the ranks to become Airmen Aircrew serving as a Caribou Flight Engineer and later as a C130J-30 Hercules Loadmaster. This extensive operational experience provided him with firsthand understanding of the critical importance of safety and human factors in high-pressure environments.

For more information: https://crewfusionteambuilding.com.au/

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The Power of Organizational Learning with Dr. Nippin Anand

Dr Nippin Anand_The Power of Organizational Learning

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Are we truly learning from accidents? In this compelling episode, Dr. Nippin shares a different perspective on the Costa Concordia disaster, enriched with his deep insights and research, alongside an exclusive interview with Captain Schettino. He delves into a profound understanding of risk and safety, emphasizing the impacts of culture and shared responsibility. Tune in to uncover valuable lessons about the power of organizational learning and how it can help us make meaningful changes.

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Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe, yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is the Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized ops and safety guru, public speaker and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

 Hi, and welcome to the Safety Guru. Today, I’m very excited to have with me, Dr. Nippin Anand. He’s caught my attention because he’s got a deep background in organizational learning. He’s a host of a podcast, Embracing Differences. He has a new book that just came out around, Are We Learning from Accidents? Phenomenal background, phenomenal stories. Looking forward to our conversation. Nippin, why don’t we start maybe with how you got into this space? Because you have a phenomenal story there. 

You mean the title of the book? Yes, it’s very tied up with my life stories. Not just one story, it’s tied up with many stories. I write that in my book as the opening, Eric. Starting off with the idea that failure was never an option for me. I come from a middle-class family in India, a very religious family. I was going to board my first ship as a cadet. This is going back to 1995. The night before I was leaving home, my mom came to me and said that I’m aware that life at sea is very hard and you’re going away for 18 months. Do us one favor, at least. Don’t come back home before you finish your contract and 18 months. That actually put an immense burden on my shoulders. It was a feeling that failure was not an option. I worked for almost about 11 years. I worked a job which I never found appealing from the very first day. And this is very common in many cultures that you end up doing something because of the societal expectations, because of the family expectations. Until I had a near accident, and this was a near collision.

It wasn’t a collision; it was a near collision at sea. We were just approaching a boat first thing in the morning in Japan, and my ship just about touched another ship, also approaching port. It was a very tense situation. And I thought on that night after I finished my watch that because the accident didn’t really happen, there’s no real fuss about it. But the next morning when I woke up, Eric, the whole ship was seeing me very differently. So, from an expert doing a job for almost about 10, 11 years, dedicatedly fulfilling all my responsibilities as a professional, I came to be seen as the idiot of the town. From the next morning, every Everyone, including the seaman who was on look out with me on the night, started to doubt my competence. And at that point, I decided that it was time to… Well, I didn’t at that time, but it took me almost about a year after losing all my confidence to come to the conclusion that this was probably not the job for me. And interestingly, I stayed in that negative spiral for almost about maybe good 8 to 10 years until I came to the UK.

I did a PhD. And after doing the PhD in Anthropology, I discovered the power of narrative and how the same accident could be narrated in so many different ways. And if we truly want to learn, then I think we should be open to all the narratives. Now, Eric, there are very different narratives that we tell in different cultures. I study mythology, I study religion, I study Anthropology. One of the things that you cannot escape is the power of myth, which is belief. Not myth in the way that the Western world understands it. Myth as in what is it that we believe in? What stories do we believe in? If you look at the Christian world, which is where I live right now, I live in Aberdeen. In the Christian world, there are God created the world in seven days or six days. On the seventh day, he put the human beings there. It was a very stable world. The moment you put human beings there and you put your children there and you told them not to do something and they still did it, that’s when human beings became corrupted and could not be trusted.

So, the whole purpose of life is to follow the word of God, which is to follow the process. We call it in safety management system. That’s one way of looking at the world. So, the narrative of an accident investigation is something went wrong because you did not follow the process. That’s the Christian myth. Then there is the Greek myth. The Greek myth is not about compliance. The Greek myth is the opposite. The Greek myth is about defiance. So, there is the oppressor who is all out there to oppress the world, to become a hero, maybe, to attain heights, to attain success in life. You oppressed people. In the Greek myth, your job is to go against the odds. There is chaos out there and you need to create order out of it. So that’s how you become recognized as a hero. So that’s the myth of the heroes and the anti-heroes. People who go to the outside the fringes or the boundaries of the society and do something exceptional, whether it’s good or bad. That’s where you have people like Captain Sully and Captain Francisco Estacio. One becomes the hero because he saves the world.

Another one becomes the anti-hero or the villain, and he actually causes havoc to the world. And that’s the Greek myth at play. That’s how you tell the narrative of an accident or a near miss or whatever you want to call it. And that’s the Greek myth had played. Then you have the Indian myth had played, which is not about compliance or defiance. It’s about self-realization that the world is not stable, and the world is not chaotic. The world is what it is. The important thing is that what do you realize or what do you learn about the world as you go through this journey, what we call life? Sure. In this journey, it’s not It’s not important to understand whether people who were present in an accident, whether they complied with the rules or they went against the rules to save the world. The important thing to understand is when you investigate an accident as an investigator, what do you learn from it? That’s the world of self-realization. I think one of the things I realized is that there is no objective reality out there. It’s how the investigators present the story. It’s how they collect the data, what questions they ask, how they go about processing and analyzing the data, and how they go about presenting the information.

Until the investigator becomes cognizant or aware of their own biases, nothing changes. This applies not just to investigators, it applies to everyone, a leader who goes to the site to engage with people, somebody as an inspector who goes to audit the site or the workplace. The important thing is that we don’t realize we have our own biases. Biases are not a bad thing. Biases is what makes us humans. The important thing is, do we realize that we have certain assumptions, certain narratives, certain experiences, certain qualifications, certain family background, certain aspirations, certain motivations that push us to look at things in a certain way. And a lot of learning opportunities are lost because we are so busy creating objective narratives and making that separation between the narrator and the narrative which does not exist. So, until we become aware that we are biased, and we need to appreciate other narratives, other stories from other people, other point of views, it’s very, very hard to learn anything from accidents and non-events, both. So that was my biggest realization.

Phenomenal. A really interesting story. I’d love to pivot to when you’re talking about incidents, investigations, you had a very unique chance to speak to the captain of the Costa Concordia. I’d love to hear some of the themes, the story, the conversations you had with him along the path we just explored.

Yes. The interesting thing is that because I had a background in safe airing, and I had, at that time, already started blogging, writing blogs. When this accident happened, well, I met him five years after the accident. When that accident happened, my rapport, my blogs, the way I used to write, was very helpful to establish that initial connection with him. I just had to approach him through another person, say that I would like to interview you, and this is my background. And very quickly, he responded with a yes, that yes, it would be nice to meet up. I document that in my book, how we went about it. It was quite easy. I think he also was very appreciative that in those five years, between the time the accident happened, that was in 2012, and the time when I met him, that was in 2017, nobody from the industry had come to speak with him. Nobody. Really? I was the first person who approached him from the industry, apart from lawyers and solicitors, to who genuinely wanted to understand his point of view. So, he was very appreciative of that. From my point of view, the story resonated because what I saw in the press was an extreme form of how I was treated Eric after my own accident at sea.

And there you have an initial resonance already between him and me. Building that rapport and approaching him and making a contact with him was easy. The next thing was, I flew to Sorento, his hometown in Italy, where he was under house arrest, and I spent four days with him. We had a great conversation. We were trying to understand his perspective, not just his perspective, but who he is, his relationship with his community, with his people, with his family, trying to understand him, why he chose a career such as seafaring, and then trying to get to understand how he moved through his career. And then the accident itself. So, a genuine interest in understanding the person even before you dip into the accident case. There’s a reason why I’m saying all this, Eric, because today, a lot of times, we go into accident investigations and audits and inspections, and there is little interest in understanding people. Because there is little interest in understanding people, there is little reciprocation from the other side. If you consider that the origin of all decision making is the unconscious mind, which is the unaware mind, which is the non-rational mind, People will tell you nothing from the non-rational unconscious mind until they see a genuine connection with you, you are making a genuine connection with them.

So, without relationship, there is no learning at all. Absolutely none. And so, getting to know somebody not just as a victim of an accident, but also as a father, as a brother, as a community member, as a husband, as a sibling, is so important before we get to understand why they did what they did on the day of the accident. Because then they can tell you things that you were probably not even expecting. And that’s the beauty of learning, that learning is a discovery. Learning is a discovery, and discoveries can only happen when we find something that we were totally unaware of. And that can only come when we make a genuine connection with people and listen to the unconscious mind of these persons. Yeah, it’s very important. Something we consistently miss in our accident models, whether old ones or contemporary ones, doesn’t matter.

Because you jump straight to the decisions, the occurrences, and you’re trying to track back to a very linear cause an effect. But what did you gain from that? Because four days is a lot of time. You’re really trying to understand the person, you’re trying to understand what was going through his mind, indirectly his mental model, which touches the biases. How does that lead to something different in terms of what transpired?

The biggest learning from this accident was that people involved in accidents, both as part of the experience of the accident, but also as part of being investigated, are traumatized. This is a very traumatic experience, both Not just experience an accident, but also going to an investigation. The first thing I would say is that if you do not know, if you’ve not been trained in trauma, if you have not been trained in how to handle a distressed person, never go into an investigation. Because that’s precisely what happened to me, and it took me nine years to come out of that cycle. It’s the first question, usually, that you ask from the person, sets the tone for the rest of the investigation. If you don’t take the time to connect with the person, you don’t take the time to understand the person, if you don’t see learning and healing should come together, then all you do is come back with data, come back with some extracted information, which is nothing but a story, a very carefully crafted story of a rational mind, a very logical story that people want to tell you because they know that’s what you want to hear.

And so, there is no learning. And a lot of times, we are missing that very crucial point that go with an open mind, connect with the person, listen to them, try to understand their stories. Try to understand what is it that shocks you the most when they’re telling the story. And there you have a very rich story from the person. And do not interrupt at all as the person is speaking, because this is something… When they are giving you something from the unconscious mind, just sit there and absorb as much as you can. There is no need to interrupt. There is no need to feel apprehensive about the silences. There’s no need to feel uncomfortable about things that go against your values, against your culture. Just sit there, be in the moment, and listen as much as you can with open questions. Things like, what would you like to share? Where would you like to begin? What? Walk me through the steps. What have you learned? These are very, very open questions, avoiding any probing, any prompting, even the person goes silent. That’s a very important thing. But Eric, Underneath all this is a methodology which is very important to understand that human beings are fallible.

People will make mistakes.

Of course.

You must embrace the fallible When you’ve seen another person, an imperfect person, just like you, you make the connection there and then. But if you’re so busy trying to fix this person, trying to find a solution, and I think quite often those reactions stop you from listening anything. You say something that you didn’t like, and you make a face, you make a gesture, and it just disconnects you from that person completely. It’s very important to go with a philosophy, with a methodology that accepts another person’s imperfection and fallibility. From there onwards, the flow begins, and you start to listen to the full story. So, your question was that what did I learn from this story? Many things, but I deliberately chose to focus on four important things. The first one was this question that, why did he choose to navigate so close to the land?

Sure.

That was the first thing that… As I spoke to him, Eric, what intrigued me was that here we are sitting so far away, so distanced from the reality, and this person does not see that as a risk at all. For him, this is a normal practice. This is what a cruise line captain does each day, every day. He balances the competing goals between customer satisfaction, which is go close to the land, and safety of navigation, which is to keep a distance. It is important that we pay attention to these things when somebody says that it’s quite a normal practice to do such a thing. Now, the important thing is that words like normal practices have become very fashionable these days. Everyone wants to study normal practices, normal work whatsoever. What we often forget is that your normal is not my normal. You are sitting in the ivory tower. For you, what is normal is completely different from what I see as normal. It’s very important that when we are speaking to people, when we are engaging with them, we try to understand what’s their normal. So on occasions, people might say things like, Oh, it’s okay.

It’s how we do it here. Oh, it’s quite normal. It’s usual. What they are telling you is that’s their culture. In that moment, we become very excited that how can this person go so close to the land when he should be 20 miles away from the land or whatever is documented in the safety management system. What the industry struggles with is the idea of subjectivity and risk tolerance, which is very individual, very subjective to each person, each culture, for that matter. If I show you a video of how people drive cars in India, in the West, and people get shocked. But equally, people get shocked in the West, in India, when they see how cars are driven in the Western world. The point being that every culture has its own normal. Absolutely. If you don’t understand the power of a worldview, a culture, then you are so far away from what is normal and what is normal work. It’s fundamental to understand. Today, when we talk about the idea of work, we don’t understand that aspect of what is normal. Normality often comes from the idea that this is my belief, this is my myth, this is my paradigm.

When I say it’s okay means that it’s consistent with my worldview. It’s consistent with my culture. It does not surprise me because this is something that has become embodied, it’s become part of my body. So, this is important. And that’s something that I highlight in the book. It’s a major part of the book, which is to understand culture through the lenses of what we consider as normal. And every culture has its own normal. We then go into the idea of why people don’t speak up. That’s another topic, and I spent a lot of time. I devoted a lot of time, actually, to it. Eric, we talked about the idea of myth, the Greek myth and the Christian myth, and the Indian myth. What happens is that people don’t realize that this whole idea of why people don’t speak up is very much the Greek myth at play. What do I mean by that? You have this #MeToo campaign in your country every now and then. We have the people in position of power, and they do things, they do injustice to people, and somebody must rise up to the occasion and stop the oppressor from doing wrong things and speak up.

What most organizations today try to do is create what we call psychological safety so that we can empower the oppressed to speak against power, which becomes abusive over a period. This is the Greek method playing, the oppressor and the oppressed. So, you have to defy the oppressor. This goes back to the narrative of defiance. This is not compliance, this is defiance. And what’s interesting in this narrative is that we pay too much focus to the individual. So, if we can empower people, if we can give them psychological safety, then they should somehow speak up. What became very apparent, what became very clear in the Costa Concordia study, and I’ve studied many, many accidents after that in aviation, in health care, in other areas, what is happening is that there is a very… Take the example of aviation. If you take the Ethiopian Airlines air crash, which happened a few years ago, and then followed by the… Sorry, I can’t remember the second one.

Lion air was first, yes.

Lion air was first, yeah.

In both instances, in the Ethiopian Airlines, for example, you have a pilot with more than 10,000 hours of experience sitting next to a co-pilot who had 200 hours of flying experience. Now, you cannot challenge this because from a certification point of view, both are certified. They are both-Correct. The co-pilot is certified for what it does, and the pilot is also certified, of course. The trouble is that we are not talking about hierarchy here, which has always existed in aviation and the maritime and many other industries. What we are talking about is hierarchy blown out of proportion completely. You have an expert who is far too powerful in this game against the novice who has just entered the profession. This is a systemic problem in the industry, and it cannot be solved through the lenses of psychological safety. You cannot send somebody on three days, five days course, attend a course in psychological safety or crew resource management, whichever way you like, and empowered them to speak up because they just… And we go back to the idea of normal, because these two people belong to two different subcultures or cultures, and they see things very differently.

For a captain who’s navigating the ship so close to the land each day, every day, it’s his everyday work, right? That’s what he does every day. He doesn’t see it as a risk. For the novice, because he sees the captain doing it every day, he does not dare to challenge it because he knows if things go wrong, he cannot handle it. What will he say and what will he do? So, what we are dealing with here is not a problem of speaking up or speaking out or listening in. What we are talking about There’s two different subcultures that see the world differently. And until we create that awareness, the problem is not with people not speaking up. The problem is that people don’t know when to speak and what to speak and how to speak. There’s nothing we can do about this. So that was a There was another theme that came up in the book, which is why don’t people speak up? And I explained that through the book. Sure. We then look at the idea of the emergency plans and processes and why they don’t work in practice when an accident happens. So, in this instance, one of the big things that came out was that sense-making in an accident, which is trying to move forward with limited information, sometimes conflicting information, time pressure, language difficulties, the reality of life, are so distanced from documented plans and processes.

And to be able to live through that trauma of an accident. And the interesting bit is not just the comparison between the documented plan and procedures and how emergency is handled in practice. The painful bit is that information and that behavior being taken to the court of law and compared against what is documented in the process, and then establishing a case for culpability and crime based on those processes is absolutely fascinating. To understand that, one has to come to terms with the idea that there’s a huge difference between how people make sense of the crisis, what it means to be a human being in a crisis, let’s put it this way, what it means to be a human being in a crisis and how you are judged or misjudged based on your behavior as part of the court proceedings that part of the investigation is something to think about, Eric. Yes.

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That was the third aspect of it. The final aspect of which really worries me, Eric, is this idea that We have this slogan that you can either blame or you can learn. One of the things that comes out from this accident, and again, many other investigations that I’ve done, is that there is escape from blame. This is more than, well, this is more than 3,000 years old ritual that started in Israel, which we call scapegoating. And unless you acknowledge that in an accident, in order to give meaning to human sufferings, somebody will be blamed. You have to accept that. And once you accept that, you know that there are better ways to put your resources, better areas to allocate your resources, and not spend too much time on accidents of this nature because they will never create the desired results that you want. So, you’d be better off putting your resources into other meaningful areas because you cannot avoid blame, you cannot avoid scapegoating. It’s inevitable in an accident. So, I use the example of the Costa Concordia, but you could easily use any example. And I think this idea that blame fixes nothing needs to be challenged because if we did not blame the captain on the night, the whole cruise industry would have come to a complete halt.

Somebody had to be blamed. When the ship capsizes, somebody has to be blamed. That person may or may not have anything to do with the accident, but that’s how the idea or the ritual of scapegoating works. So, these were the four main areas that I concentrated upon. I’m very happy to take your questions, but just to end, in the end, I actually provide a method on how we should learn from accidents and how can we learn from accidents. And the basic idea is that stop looking for improvements in processes. Of course, those things are important, then they are a by-product of many other things. But do not, as a default, start to look for processes, systems, fail-safe systems, technologies to make the world a safer place. Of course, do not turn to people who have been involved in an accident. Rather, turn it around to your own self to say, okay, what sense do I make of this accident, of this misfortune, or whatever has happened? Until we take that question to our own selves, there’s nothing that will change. The trouble today in most organizations is that we talk about organizational learning as if somebody else has to learn.

That question has to flipped around to our own selves to say, okay, I’ve been on this site, I’ve investigated this accident, I’ve been on this audit, I’ve done this inspection. What has changed in my world after this? And until we address this question, which is back to the myth that I talk about self-realization in the start. So, it’s not about compliance, it’s not about defiance, it’s about my own world. What has changed in my own world after being through this experience? And that’s what the book talks about. So, I talk about my own self, basically, this journey of discovery, learning, and how it has changed me as a person. To me, that’s the most important bit, and we don’t talk about it often. Interesting.

I think one of my main takeaways is the conversations you had with the captain in terms of getting to know the person, not just trying to connect dots to get to a pretty report on the back end. I think that is a very key component, particularly with the comment around most of our decisions are subconscious If it’s subconscious, you need to understand the person to get there. I think that makes sense. What I do disagree is around the blame fix is nothing. What I mean by this is if I think, particularly in the aviation space, a lot of the removing of blame is so that I hear about the near misses, the things that almost happened that I wouldn’t have known without that information. If we think about the near misses, there were very few self-reported near misses prior to removing the blame in aviation. I think that’s an interesting and very important point is to hear about the things that didn’t actually cause an incident, but we could address. If I think in aviation, we fell asleep, we both fell asleep, things of that nature, which I’ve shared before, I wouldn’t self-report that if the blame would turn at me.

There’s generally no consequence if I’m on autopilot that I fell asleep, assuming I’m still on course and it’s not a long-extended period of time. But it then allows me to understand what we are doing in the system that allows fatigue to build up or creep up.

The trouble with taking blame as the focus is that invariably, whether you call it a system or an individual, there is something to fix. So, it may not be the frontline person, as you said, but now it’s not the person who fell asleep. It could be a monitoring technology that failed to give us the desired data. Or maybe this problem could be fixed using a technology or a system or a process or a protocol.

Or training or other pieces. 

Or training, yes. I have no problems with that. Well, I have a couple of things to think about. I’ll leave you with a couple of things to think about. One is that what we are doing is we’re externalizing learning. Instead of taking the person who fell asleep as a victim, there is somewhere else in the system that needs to be fixed. We are still externalizing the learning. It’s a process or a system or a technology or a barrier that failed that needs to be fixed. Now, the trouble is that you can fix that, you can fix that, or you can put another barrier to it, and you never know what new problems you might have created as a result of that.

Yeah, fair.

As a result of When you’re fixing one problem, you might have created another one. And who knows when it might show up. Potentially, yeah. The other thing is that because you have now allocated the problem to somewhere else in the system, you think that that’s the end of it. That’s what we call event learning. So, we learn because we have sorted out the event. And I think that’s dangerous because you still have, I haven’t asked the question, how has it changed my view about the accident, about the person? If your view does not change, if your attitude towards failures does not change or the fallible person doesn’t change, nothing really moves. I’m not against the idea of fixing things, but quite often what happens in blaming or fixing things is that we end up externalizing the problem and we never actually take the I am to reflect upon how this has changed us as a person. And learning, in true sense, relates to change. Change, not in the outside world, change in the inside world. And unless that connection is clear between learning and change, nothing changes. So, I’ll give you an idea. Sure.

Spinoza, if you look at the back cover of my book, there are four monkeys here. There are four monkeys here. And these four monkeys are basically the result of… When I finished the Costa Concordia accident, I conducted several workshops around the world. I went around the world. At one point, I even did some work with Todd Conklin, and we did some workshops together. Some of the themes that started to emerge from those discussions was that people would either respond by making a joke of the captain during the workshops, or they would have They would finger-point at him that he did something which he shouldn’t have done, or they would sympathize with him, apologize for his situation, or they would try to suggest some fixing that maybe he should have done this, maybe the company should have done that, and this shouldn’t have happened. So, this is interesting because as I was doing my research, the Dutch philosopher, Bark Spinoza’s book, one of his quotes stuck me, which is not to laugh, not to lament, not to curse, but to understand. And to me, until you move away from the idea of spending too much time thinking about whether we should blame this person or not, whether we should fix this person or not, laugh at this person or not, and take it back on yourself to say, what have I actually learned from this?

Nothing changes.

But you can combine the two. Yeah, but you could combine the two in the scenario of the pilots that fall asleep. There can be an internal learning because it could be some elements of, I made some choices, didn’t get a good night’s sleep, things of that nature that I chose from a career standpoint, which is an internalized where I’m not blaming, but there’s a self-realization of what was my part, my contribution. Then there’s also the element from a system standpoint to say, how often is this happening? What measures do we need to have to counteract? I’m hearing about new messages that otherwise we would never hear about. I can be addressing it at the individual level, at the cultural level, and the system level, which I think then addresses the learning piece. 

Absolutely, yes. You said something powerful here that if that realization comes from the person himself as part of interviewing or as part of reflection after the interview, that’s immense learning. That’s liberation. That’s healing, actually. If when this person comes to tell me that, we had a wonderful interview together and you asked some good questions, and as you were asking those questions, this is what I came to realize, that’s liberating. You have moved one person. Of course, you have learned something, and that person has learned something. But again, going back to the idea that if you’re not asking open-ended questions, if all you have on mind is to fix this person and determine how many processes he breached or how we can fix the problem through the social context or the technological context, whatever, then there is very little learning, very little, if any use.

And I think where I would agree is if you’re transferring the blame from the individual to the system, which means I’m transferring it to somebody else, I’m still blaming. Absolutely. And I think that’s the one challenge I have with the element of… I fully agree, don’t blame the individual. But there’s an element of learning. But shifting the blame to say, okay, now it’s all the senior executives that made the wrong decision, is still blaming. It’s just a different person because it’s just system indirectly means other people. I think there needs to be a balance between because it needs to be system learning because nothing happens because of one person. Also, at an individual level in terms of that realization and how do I change.

What I’m suggesting is, and I’m not suggesting these things are not important, What I’m suggesting is, as a default, the first question to ask is, from an investigator’s point of view, what have I learned after conducting this investigation? I think if we don’t begin there, nothing changes. Because at the end of the day, the report is someone’s view. With your bias, yes. It has to be. There is nothing objective in a report. You can have all the micro details, not enormous amount of data supported by timelines and facts and evidence, don’t take anything away. And still, it is somebody’s view, somebody’s worldview. So that is something important. So, unless that person shifts his worldview or her worldview, nothing really changes. If they still see in that accident… And this is interesting, Eric, because when organizations are stuck by failures one after another, I think it’s time to slow and ask, are we stuck with our questions? It’s so important.

That’s a good point. I think that’s a key element because, like you said, our decision Decisions are mostly subconscious-driven decisions. So, unless I understand the context, I’m trying to find clues. And as an investigator, I have a bias in what I’m doing, and the organization has a bias in what they’re doing. And to pull back from it, I think, it is really key.

Yes, very important. And the other important thing in this journey is that you cannot escape your belief system. You just cannot. This morning, I was interviewing… No, a couple of days ago, I was interviewing somebody involved in an accident. And he’s a Muslim guy, and he was a frontline worker. I don’t like the word. And he was involved in an accident, and he kept saying the same thing. I said, what have you learned from this towards the end, from this experience? And he said, Well, it’s God’s will. What can I do? I can’t do anything about it. And here you are, pushing him to follow permit to work system, a job hazard analysis, toolbox talk. He will do all of that. But does he really believe in that? And I think This is something we consistently ignore. To some cultures, an accident is a quest, or the solution to an accident is to find a root cause and put a collective action. In certain cultures, it’s the God’s will. It’s happened because of the God’s will. When you employ a multinational crew, you have people from around the world. It is very, very important for investigators to become comfortable with the idea that different cultures see misfortune or accidents differently.

Differently. Very differently. Yeah.

And it’s important to appreciate that. 

I think that’s an interesting point as well. Nippin, fantastic conversation. If somebody wants to get in touch with you, pick up your book, how can they do that?

Eric, my book is available on Amazon, I believe, in Barns & Nobles. It’s called, Are We Learning from Accidents: A Quandary, a Question, and a Way Forward, because there is a method in the end to show how to investigate accidents. Apart from that, I would say I’m active on LinkedIn. I have my own website, which is nippinanand.com. I have my company, Any website called novellus.solutions.

Excellent. Well, really enjoyed having you on the show today, and look forward to maybe continuing the conversation another time 

Sure. It’s a pleasure for me as well. Thank you for reaching out and making the connection.

Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-suite Radio. Leave a legacy. Distinguish yourself from the past. Grow your success. Capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at execsafetycoach.com. Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo Consulting.  

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ABOUT THE GUEST

Dr. Nippin Anand is a former master mariner with a master’s degree in economics, a PhD in Social Sciences and Anthropology and a desire for life-long learning in the wider disciplines of humanities, social psychology and philosophy. After a near collision at sea, he took up a passion for investigating accidents and helping leaders understand the importance of perspective in human failures. As a former subject matter expert at DNV, Nippin also developed an interest in making compliance meaningful for achieving business goals. He is the host of the podcast Embracing Differences, blogs regularly and is recognised both in the research community and across safety critical industries for his ability to make research accessible to businesses and people at work.

For more information: https://novellus.solutions/about-novellus/

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