Mind your Mindset: Safety-I and Safety-II

Humanistic Systems

Photo: Steven Shorrock CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/p4jhb6 “We need self-awareness to recognise our own mindset, wisdom to see its limits, and mentally agility to choose another when appropriate.” Photo: Steven Shorrock CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/p4jhb6

During the last few years, different ways of thinking about safety have challenged prevailing worldviews in safety-related professions. Many of these ideas actually have clear roots in writings going back into the early 1980s (particularly by Jens Rasmussen, Erik Hollnagel and David Woods), and much earlier if we go outside of the safety domain. But the ideas have only gained traction more recently via particular thinkers who have managed to make a broader connection, outside of the bounds of academic journals and conferences. If Kurt Lewin’s epigram There is nothing more practical than agood theory(1952, p.169) is true*, then there is little more tragic than a good theory ignored. It appears that safety theory might be helping to rescue safety…

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