What is Your Question? Are You Interested in Learning About Risk?

One of the reasons I got off Linkedin many years ago was because I discovered quickly that it wasn’t a place for learning. It’s a faux space for announcements, preaching, back slapping, sermonising and naïve ideas of employment value. I was on Linkedin for a year and that was way too long. And, in all that time I rarely received a question but received much abuse. Most of the time all I received was telling, why I was wrong, how others were right, what was best etc. What was dished out was authoritarian, necessitated in compliance, invested in Safety ideology, personalised identity, and nil inquiry or curiosity.

Curiosity is the engine room of learning, and learning isn’t fuelled by answers but by questions.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems with safety ‘training’ is that it doesn’t enable education and learning. Training is not learning (https://safetyrisk.net/what-theory-of-learning-is-embedded-in-your-investigation-methodology/). Indeed, nearly every group I have ever done training with over the last 20 years don’t even know the basics in questioning skills (https://safetyrisk.net/critical-thinking-and-questioning-in-safety/).

The safety curriculum is a mix of: data dump, engineering-behaviourist approaches to regulation and parrot-learning of data. There is no place in the WHS curriculum for critical thinking, Transdisciplinarity, open questioning, questioning skills or enquiry.

I remember presenting my paper ‘Isn’t it Time We Reformed the WHS Curriculum?’ at an SIA Safety Conference seven years ago (the last contact ever made with the association) and was howled down by the noisy few (with no expertise in curriculum) who liked things the way they were (https://safetyrisk.net/isnt-it-time-we-reformed-the-whs-curriculum/). How dare I question the safety curriculum? I quickly discovered just how sacred safety was. Didn’t you know, the safety curriculum is a religious artefact?

The last time anyone looked at the WHS curriculum (facilitated by the AIHS) was by an engineer! And of course, engineers know all about curriculum, education and learning. BTW, the best inquiry is the one where you already know the outcome!

Nothing has changed much in the 20 years I have been in contact with the safety industry. Very few ever make an enquiry (https://safetyrisk.net/questioning-skills-and-investigations/) or seek clarification about a blog, book or video. If I ever get a question, I take such seriously, respectfully and thoughtfully under the assumption that it is an open gesture of enquiry that seeks learning. If its abuse or telling, I’m not interested.

But most often the safety way is to complain, pontificate, project, defend, tell, lecture but never ask a question. In safety, its not just that this is habitual but rather that there is no culture of questioning as part of the industry. Most don’t even know what to ask? And they have no understood ontology with which to frame a question. BTW, projection is one of the most secure of defence mechanisms. The most critical who don’t ask questions are those who don’t know me and have some cooked up idea of who I am and what I’m about. Guessing always works best apparently when you don’t want to learn.

In Safety, questioning is discouraged, compliance is encouraged. Questioning is deemed ‘bad messaging’ or anti-safety. Critical thinking is deemed negativity (https://safetyrisk.net/striking-a-balance-between-negative-and-positive-messaging-in-safety/). And so, many in the industry don’t even know how to ask a question (https://safetyrisk.net/conforming-and-questioning-in-safety/) or identify so much as Safety they are full of rage as if they have been attacked. If you identify as Safety (https://safetyrisk.net/you-are-not-the-sum-of-safety/), then there will be no question anyway. Anyone who thinks they embody Safety needs some serious counselling.

This is why so many incident investigations are NOT investigations but rather confirmations of what Safety already knows went wrong. Most investigations products on the market don’t have an investigative methodology. Most investigations are processes of checklisting anchored to Confirmation Bias (https://safetyrisk.net/investigations-and-the-simplicity-attraction/ ). iCAM is one of the worst (https://safetyrisk.net/deconstructing-icam-useful-or-useless/). Great for dollars, poor for enquiry.

This is why the SPoR SEEK program is the most in demand by safety people. Every time we open up SEEK as a free course we are inundated.

The last comment Safety wants to make is ‘I don’t know’. No knowing is the enemy of Safety. Certainty is the name of the game. In SPoR, it’s the opposite, where we see many things as a wicked problem, there are few answers but many questions. And often the best questions are those that have no answer.

So, here is your opportunity. If you have a question, ask it. My emails are well known: rob@humandymensions.com ; rob@spor.com.au; rob@cllr.com.au

I am more than happy to respond to any enquiry. I always respond with a positive, constructive and practical manner as long as it’s a question not a lecture.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.