What a Turkey


How many times have you seen someone do something incredibly stupid, even risking their life?  What a turkey!

Story goes that Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey as the American National Bird.  Almost 250 years later, this bird often carries a different connotation.  Often maligned, this tasty fowl has its day once a year.  Even two are granted a presidential pardon.

Enter Safety Culture

This pundit has spent his career around field operations and heavy equipment, first with the military and later as an oilfield field engineer going on to extensive international travel.  I have seen and done silly, stupid and often dangerous things, yet I emerged uninjured–lucky.

As a physicist and MBA I started looking at business/technical process from a systems perspective.  A big influence was Peter Senge’s classic book, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.  I could relate to its view of behavior from functional structure perspective.  This led me to Systems Dynamics from which we build several models.

Finally, in the early to mid 1990s (as part of my doctoral dissertation) we developed our construct of Structural Dynamics which we defined as Structural Dynamics is defined as the morphology or patterns of motion toward process equilibrium of interpersonal systems.

All of this prepared me for what was to happen next.  In April 2010, Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.  My colleagues and I started looking at this incident through the systems lens described above.  What we saw was very different than conventional wisdom.

For decades Charles Perrow’s Normal Accident Theory posits that we can expect accidents from complex systems–they are inevitable.  Enter High Reliability Management in Process Industries: Sustained by Human Factors, which suggests that accidents are NOT inevitable and management systems can be put in place to adequately manage even the most complex system of systems.  Moreover, we now know that many disasters failures such as an airliner crash are of the function of many smaller issues happening concurrently.

This lead us to develop four major solutions for better safety in Critical Infrastructure sectors.

This solution set enables organization of all sizes (public and private) to meet their high performance, high reliability goals while maintaining a sate workplace across their ecosystems.  Also check out our book, Implementing a Culture of Safety: A Roadmap for Performance Based Compliance and perform your own Self-Assessment of your organization’s ecosystem Culture of Safety Maturity.

A final note.  One of the best books I have read in this regard is Deepwater Horizon: A Systems Analysis of the Macondo  Disaster.  The lesson therein are useful across industry sectors.

We all know that ‘birds of a feather flock together.’  On a complex project there are many opportunities that might bring out the turkey in us.  Tools are available to limit or prevent the foul damage.

What processes and procedure does your organization have in place to herd your flock?

For More Information

Please note, RRI does not endorse or advocate the links to any third-party materials herein.  They are provided for education and entertainment only.

See our Economic Value Proposition Matrix® (EVPM) for additional information and a free version to build your own EVPM.

The author’s credentials in this field are available on his LinkedIn page.  Moreover, Dr. Shemwell is a coauthor of the just published book, “Smart Manufacturing: Integrating Transformational Technologies for Competitiveness and Sustainability.”  His focus is on Operational Technologies.

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” (Martin Luther King speech at Cornell College, 1962).  For more information on Cross Cultural Engagement, check out our Cross Cultural Serious Game.  You can contact this author as well.

For more details regarding climate change models, check out Bjorn Lomborg ands his latest book, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.

Regarding the economics of Climate Change, check out our recent blog, Crippling Green.

For those start-up firms addressing energy (including renewables) challenges, the author can put you in touch with Global Energy Mentors which provide no-cost mentoring services from energy experts.  If interested, check it out and give me a shout.

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