Complicated Systems, Complex Systems, Emergence & Systems Thinking in Safety: Talking with Adam Johns


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In this recorded video discussion with English safety professional Adam Johns, we talk about two big issues in organizational performance improvement (in general) that are big concerns in occupational safety as well: systems and complexity.

Our workplaces are made up of multiple systems, which is why systems thinking is so important when you're trying to create improvements or solve problems. We  introduce this issue in our Systems Thinking for Workplace Performance Improvement article and it's also something we discuss in our ATD Human Performance Improvement Model article.

Additionally, our workplaces are complex, particularly because they are sociotechnical systems, meaning machines and humans interact. This is different than just being complicated, in the way that a machine can be complicated. That's because even though a machine is complicated, you can predict what it will do accurately, but when you add humans (and collections of humans, such as departments or organizations or multiple organizations), things become unpredictable. This can lead to what people refer to as emergence.

I've been familiar with Adam Johns for some time, but when I read his article on Complicated and Complex Systems in Safety Management, I knew I wanted to talk through this stuff with him. He was gracious enough to accept, sharing his time and knowledge, and the video below is the fruit of that. Thanks to Adam!

And we hope you enjoy the discussion. Let us know your thoughts.

If you enjoyed this discussion of safety, complexity, and systems, you'll no-doubt enjoy the guide to "new views" of safety we've got for you below--including many global safety experts discussing HOP, HPI, Safety Differently, Safety-II, Resilience Engineering, and more. And yep, Adam's in the guide!

Jeff Dalto, Senior Learning & Performance Improvement Manager
Jeff is a learning designer and performance improvement specialist with more than 20 years in learning and development, 15+ of which have been spent working in manufacturing, industrial, and architecture, engineering & construction training. Jeff has worked side-by-side with more than 50 companies as they implemented online training. Jeff is an advocate for using evidence-based training practices and is currently completing a Masters degree in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning from Boise State University. He writes the Vector Solutions | Convergence Training blog and invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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