Video and Podcast on ‘Zero as an Immoral Goal’

For those that wish to understand the complexities of ethics and moral philosophy with regard to zero, then this video/podcast is for you:

Zero as an Immoral Goal from CLLR on Vimeo.


The argument that zero is the only moral goal is based on the assumption that the presence of injury/harm is immoral. The idea that zero is the only moral goal is based on simplistic binary thinking, ignorance on ethics and naïve thinking about risk. The presence of harm is not the basis for working what is moral or not. What? Is every parent immoral because children in their care get injured and harmed on a daily basis??? Are teachers immoral because children get hurt in their care each day???

Of course, zero never actually means zero in the safety world. It’s always about selective harm and zero is qualified by words like ‘beyond’. ‘toward’, ‘journey’ and ‘vision’. This is because even the most naïve and simplistic advocates of zero know that the goal is unachievable and absurd in the face of the reality of fallibility (

Even so, that doesn’t seem to stop so called ‘innovation science’ from peddling nonsense (

Zero is an ideology (, religious mantra (, dangerous numeric idea ( and a harmful goal ( ). Any perfectionist discourse has no place in management, leadership or relationships between mortal humans.

At the most fundamental and basic level, anyone in safety who thinks about setting goals should understand that only achievable goals motivate people. Unachievable goals break everything we know about the psychology of goals ( Anyone who wants to be professional knows that setting unachievable goals de-motivates people. Not so Safety!

If you want to read a nonsense paper on ‘stretch goals’, full of non-science, dogma, projection and ignorance, try reading this:

This is the paper that the Safety Innovation Science Lab ‘uses’ to justify the nonsense of zero as a moral goal ( Even the most casual read of this paper, applying a low level of critical thinking would, would tear to shreds the silly arguments based on ignorance on the psychology of goals. If you want to know about the psychology of goals rather than mythical projections about measurement and performance then, read Moskowitz, G., and Grant, H., (2009). The Psychology of Goals. Guilford, London. (

All you have to do with the silly arguments in this paper and the podcast by the so called ‘Safety Innovation Science Lab’ about the morality of zero, is to enquire about assumptions and, interrogate language and silences. Just one quote from this silly paper will do:

‘If done right, a stretch target . . . gets your people to perform in ways they never imagined possible. It’s a goal that, by definition, you don’t know how to reach. You might, for instance, ask people to cut costs by half or reduce product-development time from years to months . . . [in order to] find dramatically new ways of doing business’

‘If done right’ is all about conditionality and a great excuse to opt out of any failure. Oh, the reason why your stretch goals didn’t work is because they weren’t done right. Similarly, the reason why you didn’t achieve perfection was you didn’t try hard enough. Then this, it’s a goal ‘you don’t know how to reach’ really??? Could you be that dumb??? By what method does one get to a destination without the knowledge of how to get there?

All of this this is anchored to 1930s dumb behaviourist theory, the theory Safety loves ( Humans are NOT the sum of inputs and outputs.

In this paper you will read all about ‘performance’, ‘measurement’ and ‘targets’. You will also read about ‘paradox’, ‘intuition’ and about lots of ‘could’ and ‘should’. It’s a nonsense paper that wants to ‘prove’ (and it doesn’t) that stretch goals are ‘good’. It uses mechanistic assumptions applied to fallible persons, linguistic gobbledegook to justify absurdity and, linguistic gymnastics to equate ‘stretching’ with impossibility.

The foundation of working out whether anything is moral, immoral or amoral is, understanding the nature of: persons, power, ideology, community, Socialitie and virtue.

This paper and the nonsense coming out of the Safety Innovation Science Lab, does none of this. What it does is, work out the outcome it wants eg. ‘zero is moral’ then, works backwards to create a rationale to support its view. This is not how real science works.

If you really want to know if something is moral, start with this question: how does this humanise persons?

The approach of this paper and the so called ‘Safety Innovation Science Lab’ is not science, not innovative, not mature, simplistic and intellectually infantile.

Even the most basic of understandings in the psychology of motivation, perception and goal setting know that the arguments of this paper and the so called ‘Safety Innovation Science Lab’ have no basis in evidence. Even the suggestion that something is a ‘paradox’ ought to caution anyone dabbling in ethics to resist the declaration of dogma. Not so Safety! Oh no, there is no other moral goal! That’s called dogma!

If you actually want to study ethics there is an alternative to this mechanistic behaviourist stuff that doesn’t end out harming people. There is an approach that is actually innovative, person-centric, positive and constructive that improves safety and humanises persons. You can study this here:

Or register for the free online Introduction to SPoR with Matt Thorne in 2024:


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