Sidney Dekker

Sidney Dekker

Drift into Failure

@sidneydekkercom · Australia



Sidney Dekker (PhD Ohio State University, USA, 1996) is professor at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, where he runs the Safety Science Innovation Lab. He is Chief Scientist at Art of Work, and has honorary professorial appointments at The University of Queensland and Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. Previously, he was Professor of human factors and system safety at Lund University in Sweden. After becoming full professor, he qualified on the Boeing 737, and worked part-time as an airline pilot out of Copenhagen. He has won worldwide acclaim for his groundbreaking work in human factors and safety. His debut documentary Safety Differently was released in October 2017, and he is best-selling author of, most recently: The Safety Anarchist (2017); The End of Heaven (2017); Just Culture (2016); Safety Differently (2015); The Field Guide to Understanding ‘Human Error’ (2014); Second Victim (2013); Drift into Failure (2012); and Patient Safety (2011).

The human factor: Pursuing success and averting drift into failure

By Sidney Dekker

The 'human factor' has long been seen as a weak link in otherwise well-functioning systems, and control through compliance and bureaucracy has often been relied on as a solution. But research over the past decades, from a number of industries, shows something very different. People are critical to the discovery and development of pathways to success—despite organizational, managerial and operational obstacles, goal conflicts and resource constraints. Investigating why things go well, rather than hunting and tabulating individual errors, is proving to be a much better predictor of both failure and success. It can help avert organizational drift into failure by making visible the little and larger sacrifices people make every day to get stuff done. It can also inspire organizations to offer their people autonomy, mastery and purpose in their roles, allowing creativity and innovation to blossom.

Learning from mistakes: No-blame management and accountable teams

By Sidney Dekker

How do we avoid a culture of fear, where people are afraid to speak up, and where we don't learn from each others' mistakes? There is strong empirical evidence from a number of industries that a resilient organizational culture is one that allows colleagues and superiors to hear bad news. Blame as a management tool—asking which rules or expectations were violated, how bad that was and what the consequences for the individual should be—are corrosive for honesty, openness, learning, innovation and process improvement. In this hands-on, you will learn from the experiences of organizations that had the courage to build a culture of trust, learning and forward-looking accountability; who discovered new ways to address the needs of individuals, colleagues, clients and the organization in the wake of failures and close calls.

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