Masterclass Series 2021

Professor Sidney Dekker - international safety guru, author, educator, pilot and, of course, the man who coined the phrase “Safety Differently” - leads us on an educative journey through human factors, decluttering and Safety Differently to a place of Just Culture.

Sidney Dekker

Sidney Dekker (PhD Ohio State University, USA, 1996) is Professor and Director of the Safety Science Innovation Lab at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and Professor at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University in the Netherlands.

Sidney has lived and worked in seven countries across four continents and won worldwide acclaim for his groundbreaking work in human factors and safety.

He coined the term ‘Safety Differently’ in 2012, which has since turned into a global movement for change. It encourages organisations to declutter their bureaucracy and provide people freedom-in-a-frame to make things go well - and to offer compassion, restoration and learning when they don’t. An avid piano player and pilot, he has been flying the Boeing 737 for an airline on the side. (Well, why not?)


Masterclass 1

Understanding 'Human Error'

Wed 14 July 2021

12pm -1:30pm

We have long seen ‘human error’ as a major cause of trouble—as if we’re the custodians of basically safe systems that simply need to be protected from erratic, unreliable human behavior. With tighter procedures, a focus on compliance, technology, surveillance and supervision, we think we can contain an acceptable bandwidth of human performance.

In this masterclass, you will learn that the label ‘human error’ has been a counterproductive attribution, a judgment we make after the fact, ever since human factors and safety scientists started to study it seriously. Some 80 years ago already, the science showed that ‘human error’ is systematically connected to features of people’s tools, tasks and operating environment. The human performance some call ‘error’ is information about how people have been set up for success (or not) to cope with the complexities and contradictions of real work.

You will learn that a ‘human error’ problem is at least as complex as the organisation that helps bring it forth, and that with a better understanding of the messy details of people’s daily practice, you can find the adaptive capacities that actually make things go right despite ever-present goal conflicts and resource constraints.

Masterclass 2

Understanding and Managing Risk

Wed 21 July 2021

12pm -1:30pm

The effective management of risk depends critically on what your people (including your safety people) understand risk to be. Misconceived ideas about risk can lead to wasted money and effort trying to manage risk - and worse, it can lead to unanticipated side effects and even greater risk. If you see risk as a kind of unconfined energy that might harm people, then you can put barriers between people and that source of harm.

In this masterclass you will learn how this can backfire if the barrier is a social one, and can easily get circumvented if your processes aren’t simple, linear or sequential. Also, a barrier doesn’t help if your risk consists of a gradual drift toward failure and a continuous re-negotiation of what your organisation will accept under cost and efficiency pressures. If you see risk as worker non-compliance or other behavioural problems, then you might put behavioural controls, surveillance or performance management in place. This, however, does nothing to improve the error-tolerance or error-resistance of the tools, tasks and organisation your people work with, and can leave behavioural traps firmly in place. It also hampers your people’s adaptive capacities that your organisation undoubtedly relies on to get stuff done on the frontline.

Masterclass 3

Safety Differently

Wed 28 July 2021

12pm -1:30pm

Today, we spend a lot of time on the work of safety and have lost sight of the safety of work. Safety Differently, embraced by multiple top tier organisations globally, offers a compelling alternative to the bureaucratisation and increasing compliance of work. It sees people not as a problem to control, but as a resource to harness. Safety Differently defers to expertise - not telling people what to do, but instead asking them what they need to be successful.

In this masterclass, you will learn how Safety Differently turns safety back into an ethical responsibility, instead of a mere bureaucratic accountability that supplies selective numbers to managers, boards and regulators. It doesn’t just want to stop things from going wrong, but discovers why they go well. As you’ll be encouraged to do, Safety Differently helps you recognise and enhance the capacities in your people, your team and processes that make it so.

Masterclass 4

A Restorative Just Culture

Wed 4 August 2021

12pm -1:30pm

It is easy to build a retributive ‘just’ culture in your organisation, asking about rules and violations and consequences. But it might well erode trust between the people you rely on for your organisation’s performance. Trust is easy to break, and hard to fix.

In this masterclass you will learn how a restorative Just Culture, instead, focuses on learning, re-establishing trust and enhancing individual and organisational resilience in the wake of a negative occurrence. It asks who are impacted by an event, what their needs are, and whose obligation it is to meet those needs. It holds people accountable in a forward-looking way, by encouraging the creation of conditions of psychological safety - so people across an organisation can offer open and honest accounts of what happened and what needs to happen to set them, and others, up for success.