Harming People in the Name of Good

We learned recently that there are always by-products in messaging. After all, the medium is the message.

And we learned that despite good intentions that significant harm was caused.

The reality is, it doesn’t matter how much passion you have or how much good will or intention, unless the trajectory, by-products and trade-offs are considered in messaging, its most likely the message will be harmful.

This is the trajectory and outcome of zero vision.

All goal setting, strategy (and non-strategy) and, messaging, create unconscious trade-offs and competing goals. These are mostly hidden, unconscious and cannot be predicted (https://safetyrisk.net/you-cant-predict-the-unpredictable/). This is symbolised in Figure 1. Competing Goals and Figure 2. Goals and By-Products.

Figure 1. Competing Goals


Figure 2. Goals and By-Products.


All of this is studied in the SPoR Module on learning (https://safetyrisk.net/a-definition-of-learning-a-video/ ) – (https://cllr.com.au/product/learning-community-and-the-social-psychology-of-risk-unit-7/ ).

What we learn from the Grim Reaper HIV ads (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grim_Reaper_(advertisement)) was that the LGBT community was unconsciously demonised and de-humanised in the name of good.

The truth is, it is not good enough to have some naïve sense of ‘saving lives’ to zero whilst at the same time brutalising people in the name of good!

The bizarre reality of the global mantra on zero is that it generates harm.

Similarly, without some expertise in ethics, it is unlikely that any crusading on zero puts one on a trajectory of harm

Any analysis of the ‘Spirit of Zero’ campaign by global zero vision (https://safetyrisk.net/the-spirit-of-zero/) endorses violence, just have a look at this apocalyptic religious video.

This Grim Reaper campaign even though it was screened 40 years ago, still resonates in the psyche of Australian people today. This is how naïve messaging functions.

It’s like stating that ‘structure creates culture’ (https://safetyrisk.net/structure-does-not-create-culture/) thereby endorsing the multiplication of structure and systems for an industry exhausted by excessive structure and systems. This is like all the advocates for ‘lean’. Every time I see a ‘lean’ program put in place, paperwork multiplies.

I am currently working with a Tier 1 construction company that wants help with culture and the first thing that needs to be done is to show them how much of what they are doing in the name of safety is creating the cultural problem in safety. The first step in learning about risk is to jettison (un-learn) much of the indoctrination in safety that comes via the curriculum.

This is what the safety curriculum does. It creates a fortress of indoctrination that purports to be about safety (and masks as education) then it becomes nearly impossible to get rid of it (sunk cost).

One of the best books I know on strategic thinking, by-products, trade-offs and learning is by Donald N. Michael. (1973) Learning to Plan and Planning to Learn. Miles River Press, Virginia. A brilliant book. Similarly: Sloan, Julia., (2006). Learning to Think Strategically. Elsevier. New York. You can guarantee these will not be in any safety curriculum.

Unless zero-safety gets the message (https://safetyrisk.net/the-medium-is-the-message/) it will continue to harm people in the name of good.

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