President's Blog 5/8/20

By NZISM Secretary


Kia ora koutou to all members and supporters of NZISM. What an absolutely enlightening five weeks it has been listening to Nippin Anand and his commentary on becoming a Learning Organisation. I have spoken to a number of attendees who were mesmerised by Nippin’s storytelling ability and there has been a huge number of comments across social media about the benefits people got from attending this event. Here are my own personal 'takeaways'...

Session 1 - there were so many thought-provoking statements and messages around curiosity, ambiguity, heroes and villains in this first session. In Session 2 Nippin focused on meaningful compliance and having the strength to question those with supposed authority. We see these hierarchical structures where questioning of authority is not the norm not only in seafaring but the airline industry, hospitality and healthcare, and maybe others. Remember the reference to “the Professor” and the Italian interpretation of this word as someone with this nickname as having bookish knowledge that cannot be translated into practice?

In Session 3 Nippin explored error detection and error management and the difference between an expert and someone with expertise. There was a raft of commentary about normal work and the use of hindsight which comes out as counterfactuals or statements that are not facts but look like facts. There was content around the conflicting goals, quality and usability of standard operating procedures and the language that is used in them. This language discussion reminded me of Shelly Davies' webinar where she said that our writer-selves and our reader-selves need to meet. Nippin discussed the linear nature of SOPs and the steps that are omitted due to the writer, (who is unlikely to have been the worker), deciding these steps are not relevant.

Unfortunately, something we see a bit of is what Nippen coined "Intellectual Laziness". Let us call it the 'cut and paste' approach where procedures are borrowed from elsewhere and are not updated to reflect the new environment they are to be used in. We were reminded that it’s not necessarily less procedures we need through simplifying documents but clarification of the content. We were challenged to consider the dynamic environments of our operations, to think about the orderly way in which we run an emergency evacuation drill against the chaos of a real emergency situation.

Finally, the last two sessions were very much a time to reflect and be curious and in particular to be drawn into what was a gut-wrenching emotional final story about Joe. There is way too much to write about here so I will leave you with two of Nippin's comments when learning about failures which were:

  1. "Point one finger and you’ll find three more pointing back at you” and
  2. “Our judgement of others is a reflection of who we are”

For those who were able to attend the workshops, I hope you got as much out of them as I did.

Ngā mihi mahana

Greg Dearsly