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The Abilene Paradox

There is an interesting phenomenon in social psychology called pluralistic ignorance or the "Abilene Paradox".  In short it is the reluctance people have to voice a minority opinion in a group, especially if they feel that they're the only ones holding that opinion. When a group seems to be set on a certain idea or action, people will often not voice their disagreement with it if they feel they are the only ones against the group's position.  Often this is [...]

“I’ll go down, I’m not scared to die …”

Give me a chance to go down today, I'll do it!  I'm desperate to get out of this poverty. I'm not scared to die or get arrested because even the police are involved in this. I don't blame zama-zamas; in fact I'm encouraged by their initiative." These are the words of a 18 year old jobless hostel resident in Welkom, South Africa.  These words are especially disturbing after  a week where at least 76 illegal miners (zama-zama's or chance-takers) have died [...]

By |June 5th, 2009|Categories: Complexity|Tags: , |0 Comments

Values vs Slogans

We attended an interesting public workshop on Mine Health and Safety today.  One of the speakers said the following:  Zero harm should be a value, not a slogan. This made me wonder,  how many supposed "values" are nothing more than slogans? ... We often find that people (especially leaders) pay lip service to the latest hot topic by coming up with a catchy phrase, but there's no real substance or commitment behind it. A case in point is the seemingly [...]

Mine safety – over-focus on compliance

The recent Presidential Mine Safety Audit has caused a ruckus on the wires for reporting that compliance with safety legislation in the South African mining industry is a mere 66%. We find this interesting in light of our just-released narrative research with Deloitte into the state of mine safety in the country. Our report (click here to download) highlighted the evident gap between the complex nature of the problems facing mine safety and the ordered solutions being utilized to address these problems. One [...]

Framing problems

Leon from Occam's Donkey alerted me to an article that was published in a recentScientific American on the impact that the language leaders use when referring to terrorism has on the perception of the general population.   For example, a metaphor of "law enforcement" triggers very different responses than a "war" metaphor. The article starts with the sentence "How we characterise an issue affects how we think about it".  This is perfectly illustrated by typical responses to occupational safety incidents.  Because people tend to [...]

the spiritual side of safety

As part of a mining safety project we're currently involved in, we conducted interviews with several key industry stakeholders.  During one of these interviews we were told the following story: A worker at a mine that has recently experienced a spate of fatal accidents told investigators that he knew the reason why there were so many accidents at this mine, and he also said that they would continue unless certain measures were taken.  According to him, the "ancestors" were angry [...]

By |September 24th, 2008|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |0 Comments
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