The seven delusions in disaster-prone organizations

CIM Montreal 2011
Abstract Organizations are like the Titanic: our delusions let us enter dangerous waters at full speed, ignoring obvious signs of impending catastrophe. This paper analyses 7 delusions in disaster-prone organizations, such as BP Texas, Bhopal, Piper Alpha - and possibly yours…

The delusion of:
• (risk) control
• compliance
• consistency
• human error
• predictability
• statistical trends
• invulnerability

The 7 deadly delusions are not readily visible in an organization, mostly because there are no mechanisms from inside to identify them. The problem is that role players such as managers, supervisors and employees all have a vested interest in positive safety outcomes, positive trends and good news about safe work performance.

The massive focus on positive safety in today’s business world, the lack of self-critical analysis and understanding of the complex dynamics in safety all contribute to the problem. Add to this mix the peddling of simplistic safety solutions, such as the concept that the human being can be reduced to a simple ABC (Antecedent-behavior-Consequence) model such as espoused by behavioral psychology/safety, and you have an explosive concoction.
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