Creativity, Discovery and Innovation in Risk

The ability to juggle ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty are essential to the creative process and innovation. Whenever I have been in a crisis and high-risk situation, and I’ve been in a few, the last thing one needs is an anxiety about certainty and control. The best innovation comes from those who can live in the dialectic, tolerate ambiguity and in-between. This is why zero ideology, being consumed with absolutes and certainty, is a recipe for anti-learning and non-innovation.

I always find it entertaining looking at safety awards and, nonsense talk in safety about ‘thought leaders’, and none of it is innovative. The fixation on certainty and that 1% safer is all just more of the same stuff. In many ways safety is not about tackling risk but is a marketing business. The question is not how we can better tackle risk or humanise risk but, how can we make more money from marketing yet another con ( And, in an industry that despises critical thinking, every scam in the world is for sale. Just make sure your slogan includes the word ‘zero’.

Indeed, wherever you find zero ideology in safety there can be no learning or innovation. Zero is the ideology of stasis and no movement. And, just because the word ‘innovate’ or ‘innovation’ is used, doesn’t mean there is innovation. A classic example is the Safety Science Lab supporting zero ( When you don’t know what to do with zero ideology, you really do have a problem ( If you fall for the olde binary delusion and don’t understand ethics, then wouldn’t you seek some advice???

The real challenge for Safety is; you have to be prepared to step into the unknown if you want to be creative or innovative.

When I was involved in any crisis the experience was new, no-one involved had ever had such an experience before. Each day in the crisis was uncertain. Every decision had no predictable outcome. We worked on the probabilities but as fallible people had no crystal ball and couldn’t see the trade-offs and by-products of any decision. Prediction in anything for humans is just another scam and a fundamental denial of fallibility (

It is also why gambling is such an attraction and addiction for people. Just go to any casino or gambling place and look for the people undertaking rituals with a computer programmed to give random results, and watch the touching, rubbing and superstitious actions of punters thinking they can influence an outcome. The same applies to any safety marketing that promises the impossible and denies fallibility. Similarly, any nonsense that demonises the emotions ( or proposes that humans are the enemy ( But don’t worry, even the AIHS promote humans as the enemy of safety ( No wonder this group are seduced by zero.

If you’re human, anyone offering some promise of prediction in safety is speaking non-sense.

When you innovate you are already in the space of not knowing and uncertainty. Indeed, the foundation for critical thinking is tolerance for ambiguity. If you are connected to anyone asserting that they are innovative and don’t speak the language of uncertainty and ambiguity, then it’s not innovative. It’s just more of the same with a slogan attached.

In SPoR, innovation is evidenced by difference and method ( None of what we do is done elsewhere, and indeed, SPoR involves significant unlearning in safety to do it. All of what we do is based in visual, verbal, semiotic, poetic and tacit ways of knowing however, many in safety would rather demonise SPoR than seek to understand it. This is the quest for certainty and the fear of uncertainty at work. This is how engineering and behaviourism work. Confirm what you know, grab the best template, complete the checklist and bingo job done.

If you are interested in learning about SPoR, it’s all available for free download ( included introductory courses (Free SPoR Intro; Free Due Diligence – or:

If you are in the USA, Canada or Europe you can go to the SPoR program being delivered by Dr Nippin Anand in 20-22 March in London (

 Or you can come to the SPoR Convention in Canberra in May (


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