Raeda Consulting September 25, 2017

Simplicity in Safety Investigations


This, my first book, attempts to share an approach to incident investigations that incorporates some of the old thoughts and ideas with the latest advances in safety science whilst maintaining a firm practical base. The techniques I describe are elements from the “New View”, “Safety II”, and “Safety Differently” styles of thinking and application. The approaches I describe and explore have been proven successful in action and are simple to use.



This, my first book, attempts to share an approach to incident investigations that incorporates some of the old thoughts and ideas with the latest advances in safety science whilst maintaining a firm practical base. The techniques I describe are elements from the “New View”, “Safety II”, and “Safety Differently” styles of thinking and application. The approaches I describe and explore have been proven successful in action and are simple to use.


My intent is not to try to replicate the works of Hollnagel, Dekker or others by spending time exploring the science of the New View or Safety Differently; as I believe the authors do that far more effectively in their books and papers than I ever could.  I list many of these in the bibliography and reading list section at the end of the book. My aim is to help the reader understand what is important in investigations, why that is so, and just as importantly, how to practically run workplace incident investigations.


I hope that Simplicity in Safety Investigations: A Practitioner’s Guide to Applying Safety Science will better equip readers to deal with incident investigations by helping them understand some of the science behind investigation techniques, and by exploring coaching and leadership styles that help us ask better questions both before as well as after workplace incidents.


Check out the cover and then check out the book. It is available at all the usual suspects: Routledge, Amazon, Kindle, The Book Depository, Booktopia, Google Books et cetera. Of course, I would love to hear what you think.




Raeda Consulting January 03, 2017

Helping your transient workers


They come in, they stay a few days or weeks and their previous workplace experience consists of flipping burgers. How do you help them be safe and the best they can be? The answer is to keep it simple and do not confuse them with stupid safety and HR rules that are not relevant to them. Help them gain some simple skills like Risk Intelligence and Resilience and then look after them...

The basics for a transient workforce:


More and more often we use on-tap workforces; to be the arms and legs for maintenance shutdowns activities, to handle short-term surges in headcount need, for longer-term non-core activities and for elements of civil and building construction projects as well as on marine vessels in support of off shore facilities.

One of the roles of the leaders of a transient workforce is about making sure we set up the workplace so that it is possible to not only to plan for and achieve successful work, but also to fail safely. Because fail we will. Failures will occur – especially with elements of a transient workforce who do not have the same level of experience and capability as many of the longer-term employees and contracting partners.

In a blog last year I talked about “Authentic Leadership in Safety” and in another I have revamped my milking stool blog (“The Milking Stool Revisited”). I believe that within these two concepts are the elements we need to consider with respect to transient workforces.

It is very hard – if not impossible – to ensure that our short-term people have the capabilities, capacities and competencies that make things go right when they are only on site for a handful of days, but the question is whether we can focus them on the essential few skills they need and then make sure our other supportive systems protect and guide them? I think we can.

Apart from the controls for fatal risks that simply must be in place each and every time a task is done, one of the capabilities we want to try to improve is that around people’s adaptive capacity. This will directly impact their resilience when faced with uncertainty and upsets in their plans as they strive to achieve safe work. The big question is how we achieve this given our short-term relationship with these workers. This is especially difficult when we realize that people are people. They vary. They can vary wildly. They vary in their judgment; They vary in their experience and they vary in their frames of reference.

I do believe that the bit we can focus on and influence is how we front-end-load our transient workforce for success. Namely through the induction processes. Inductions are notoriously rubbish across the majority of industries. It is high time they moved from ticking a box to actual learning.  This is where an opportunity lies, and also the difficulties.

To my mind, inductions for transient, short-term workers needs to be quite different from your long-termers, who need to be up to speed with your culture, HR processes along with safety and lots of other stuff. The transient workers simply need some basics so they can produce safe work whilst on your site.

If we think about the milking stool, it has three legs and a seat.  The legs are about Risk Intelligence, Authentic Field Leadership and Incident Investigations, held together by the Conversations we have (the seat). Authentic Field Leadership and Incident Investigations can be easily controlled and led by you and your team (See my blog “The Milking Stool Revisited”). It is more about what you can do during an induction and start of the job in Risk Intelligence that I believe will make the difference.

My feeling is that we need to shift the bulk of the induction process away from someone reading rubbish from PowerPoint slides, less telling people to be careful and to follow all the procedures and work rules et cetera and more helping the participants learn how to get better at looking at things, thinking about situations, applying a level of judgment and assessing the likelihood of things going right and the likelihood of things going wrong. That is where we will make the difference. It needs to be flexible enough to handle the wide variety of people present in the induction without being unwieldy.

People who understand a bit about Risk Intelligence and know how to apply a simple level of Resilience in their job planning and execution will be well on the way to creating safe work. They will be thinking about what could go wrong as well as how to make it go right. They will be looking out for the precursors to something going wrong and will already have a plan in place for when that happens. Of course, they will be guided and directed through their supervisor about which systems and processes they need to use and follow, but they will have some ability for how to handle the uncertainty when it does not all work as intended. This is exactly what we want in a transient worker. They will fail. They will make mistakes, and they need to be able to adapt. This is the skill they need in their inductions.

So what could that look like? It must be as practical as possible. Ideally no PowerPoint slides and minimal lecturing. It could be all about conversations and activities that revolve around some of the topics below:

  • how we perceive things,
  • how we think about what could go right and what could go wrong,
  • practice at assessing the risks of things in the real world that go right and that go wrong:

o   marriage, cancer, getting hit by a car, terrorist attack, or simply falling over,

  • how we think about what to look for that might tell us something is about to go wrong,
  • how we look at procedures, work instructions and tasks critically. Looking for elements of the job that could lead us to problems as well as success,
  • being able to adapt (building adaptive capacity) when things go wrong,
  • how to make good plans for when it does go wrong (and how to ask for help when it does),
  • those few absolute essentials around Fatal Risk controls, all with
  • small group work to practice all of the above

So, in summary, the goal is to aim to set up all your people, especially those who only work for you for a short period of time with the positive capabilities, capacities and competencies that make things go right. Focusing on the essentials that will allow them to produce safe work without bogging them down in meaningless and repetitive waffle and things they really do not need to know.



Raeda Consulting August 25, 2016

The Milking Stool Revisited


A milking stool has three legs. If you remove one it will fall over. Safety has three legs. If you remove one it will fall over.

Milking stools, or any other three legged stools for that matter, are very stable when all the legs are in place and working and are held together solidly by the seat part of the stool. It falls over very quickly if any component is defective or missing. They are pretty stable though, even when the ground is uneven. They can handle a bit of uncertainty and even when the legs are a little bit different in length, are still able to stand and be effective.

So it is with safety. The three legs that need to be in place to create safe work are; Risk Intelligence, Authentic Field Leadership and Incident Investigations. Holding this all together are Conversations. Conversations are in many ways the seat of the stool. Without it, we do not even have a stool and it all falls over.

Let’s have a look at each in turn:

Risk Intelligence is not the same as Risk Management, Risk Assessment, Risk Aversion or Risk Control. According to Dylan Evans in his book by the same name, Risk Intelligence is the ability to estimate probabilities and likelihoods accurately. Having our people capable of simply taking a look at what they are about to do and thinking about what could go right as well as what could go wrong, the likelihood of either happening and then deciding what they are going to actually do to make sure it all goes well is what it is all about. Dr. Robert Long also talks about the word ‘risk’ as being interchangeable with the word ‘learning’ in his great book Real Risk. I agree. We do not want to be risk averse in the work place. That dumbs down risk intelligence. We want people to explore new ways of doing things, of undertaking micro-experiments in their work, of thinking about what controls they choose, not being overly reliant on following procedures like brain-dead lemmings, of learning from the work they do on a daily basis and generally to be risk intelligent. In reality, we are setting up Work-As-Intended through changes in Task Hazard Analysis, changes to procedures and work instructions and through ‘Management of Change’ in all these areas. It is important to remember here that we need to strike a balance between the recognition that some controls are ‘must haves’ and an understanding that these ‘must haves’ are often not enough on their own. We need to implement the ‘must haves’ in the context of the task and what else is going on. These not negotiable ‘must haves’ are often included in the system under categories like Material Risk, Fatal Risk, or sometimes Critical Risk. It is about giving license to be creative and improve work whilst understanding what must be in place.

The second leg of our Safety stool is what I will label Authentic Field Leadership. These are those activities (conversations mainly) that leaders undertake in the field on a day-to-day basis with people doing tasks. The intent is to try to understand the gaps between the way work was done on the day (Work-As-Done), how others normally do the work (Work-As-Normal) and how our processes and procedures intend it to be done (Work-As-Intended); and then we work to close the gaps we have identified. In many ways it is a form of verification as to how work is being done. The most powerful piece of advice I can offer here is for the leader to be authentic in their interactions. In the words of Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones in Why Should Anytime Be Led by You? “Be yourself – more – with skill”. Showing who you are as a person, as a leader, showing you really care and are absolutely interested in what the team are doing, how they view the world in front of

them and exploring with them, their decision-making processes will get you a very long way in Authentic Leadership in the field and really support and be helpful to your team.

The third leg is Incident Investigations. Here we want to explore what is responsible for an outcome not being quite what we expected it to be (Someone had got hurt perhaps). In exactly the same way as we did for Authentic Field Leadership, here we are trying to understand the gaps between the way work was done on the day of the event (Work-As-Done), how others normally do the work (Work-As-Normal) and how our processes and procedures intended it to be done (Work-As-Intended); and then we work to close the gaps we have identified. I have said this often, and will do so again here: “the conversations we have before an event should be the same as the conversations we have after an event”.

So, how best to summarize the three legs? We want our people to have the competencies, capabilities and capacities to create safety through risk intelligence, our leaders keeping an eye on things through conversations in the field and sound investigation practices when it does go wrong. The secret is how we choose to help our people get really good at Conversations. I believe that an effective way we can help all of our people get better at conversations is by coaching.

We know that coaching and helping leaders become great coaches using a non-directive approach such as the GROW model helps enormously in the area of Authentic Field Leadership and Incident Investigations. How can we also use it in Risk Intelligence? To me, it is exactly the same. My suggestion is to explore how you can create a coaching culture. Consider, not only formal coaching of your leaders but also how to help them create a coaching style within their managing and leadership activities. Coaching can be used in just about any situation; when the team is thinking about how to do a task, when a leader is out in the field being an authentic safety leader or when they are helping a team really understand an adverse outcome such as an incident.

In summary, the glue that holds the stool together is making sure our people:

• Have the right capabilities, capacities and competencies,
• Are assigned tasks that are planned, thought through and clear,
• Understand the context and purpose of the task assigned to them,
• Understand how the job could be done to make it go right,
• Understand the likelihood of things going right (successful and safe completion of the task) and the likelihood of it going wrong,
• Understand what could go wrong, what to look for to indicate it might be going wrong and have a plan ready to implement when this happens,
• Be guided by simple systems such as easy-to-use SOPs and THAs (Work-As-Intended) that reflect how work is actually done,
• Have the right tools and equipment,
• Are supported through effective coaching conversations and care from authentic leaders, and
• Carry out the task as planned,

Then we WILL achieve productive and safe work.

Raeda Consulting July 12, 2016

Authentic Safety Leadership?


We hear a lot about ‘Authentic Leadership’ and we hear a lot about ‘Safety’. What do the two together look like?

Authentic Leadership in Safety

Two books spring to mind immediately when I think about Authentic Leadership. One is Why Should Anyone be Led by You? By Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones (Harvard Business Review Press, 2006) and the other is Discover Your True North By Bill George (Wiley Press, 2015). Both of these fantastic books call on us to be ourselves, and more. Not simply to follow the style of some charismatic leader but to truly understand yourself and be that person in your leadership. George quotes Amgen’s Kevin Share with: “You are the mosaic of all your experiences.” Authentic Leadership is about being true to yourself and the past that has created you. So the question becomes one of what does Authentic Leadership look like in the safety arena and how have our pasts built up who we are in our approach to safety and our people?

Once again, a good starting point for any of these sorts of conversations is thinking about our mindset with respect to safety generally. The definition of ‘Safety’ as described by Sidney Dekker in Just Culture – Balancing Safety and Accountability is a really good way to go:

“‘Safety’ is the presence of positive capabilities, capacities and competencies that make things go right and not as the absence of things that go wrong”. Erik Hollnagel has a very similar definition.

This definition drove me to think deeply about safety and leadership in a different way. It is all about front-end-loading your business, of making sure the people who are at risk have the required capabilities, capacities and competencies to get the job done successfully. But the important thing is not so much what you do in your leadership around safety. But rather it is about how you do what you do. I am not suggesting a forced behavioural based approach here, but rather a way of being a leader that others know is real and driven from a set of values and way of being that is clear in the leader’s mind.

To do this effectively, I believe that you need to understand why you do what you do and you need to authentically care about your people. You cannot get away with lip service when it comes to safety. Safety comes from the heart. It is a passion that reflects your values and purpose.

Of course, we all have legislation that needs to be followed and our businesses have rules and systems that should be followed, but authentic leadership in this space is about being truly understanding of who you are, what safety means to you, why you think safety is important and then being yourself.

I have often talked about the conversations we have on a day-to-day basis needing to be the same conversations that we have after a workplace safety incident. This is exactly where Authentic Leadership in Safety can come in:

• Looking at what normally goes right to create safety instead of looking just at things which are currently not going right.
• Focusing on the differences between the way the work was done on the day (Work-As-Done) and the way the work was intended to be done by the procedure, work instruction et cetera (Work-As-Intended).
• Getting as many things as right as possible, rather than minimising the number of things that go wrong.
• Considering people as a solution to harness and develop, rather than a problem to control.
• Challenging ourselves and our thinking about whether we are truly helping people get the positive capabilities, capacities and competencies that they need to create safety.

Remember that our people consistently create safety in what they do while they do their work. It is from their capabilities, competencies and capacities that safe work is produced. They adapt to suit the conditions on the day. There are always explanations as to why the way the work is done in-the-field on a day-to-day basis does not always match the procedure. In fact, it rarely matches the procedure exactly. Yet, the vast majority of times it results in ‘safe work’. It is how you react to this fact, what conversations you have with your people in the field and the way you feel about the situations that define your leadership. All of these reactions are internally driven, not something you can just copy and paste onto yourself.

I agree with Bill George in that it takes considerable effort and introspection to understand your experiences, your past, what drives you and what you represent in the World. His book walks you through that and I believe that for anyone who aspires to be a Great Safety Leader, or a Great Leader more generally, then they should read both “Why Should Anyone be Led by You?” and “Discover your True North”. As you may well be aware, I am passionate about helping create Great Safety Leaders and I encourage you to comment on this blog or to start a conversation with me.

Raeda Consulting May 30, 2016

ICAM Facilitators handbook


A present for those of you who use ICAM. Attached is the latest edition of my ICAM facilitator's guide.

A present for those of you who use ICAM. Attached is the latest edition of my ICAM facilitator’s guide. All you need to run a great ICAM. Cheers

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