Understanding Systems and Ecologies in Risk
It was Karl Weick (1979) who defined organizing as: ‘consensually validated grammar for reducing equivocality by means of sensible interlocking behaviours’. This is such a comprehensive definition of how humans organize. If we think of organizing as ‘consensually validated grammar’ then we look at the language codes used by groups to create shared commonality, norms and a collective unconscious.
When humans organise they create systems and ecologies, open and closed systems (https://safetyrisk.net/balancing-open-and-closed-systems-in-risk/ ) and a dialectic between both. If we really want to tackle risk effectively we need to understand a whole range of systems and ecologies in how humans organize, this includes:
- Verbal systems
- Visual systems
- Aural systems
- Written systems
- Social ecologies
- Cultural ecologies
- Myth-symbol ecologies
- Poetic ecologies
Why is it that when Safety speaks of systems it only thinks of paperwork? Why is it that when this industry speaks of language it only thinks of it in the form of recorded text and propositions?
If you ever have the unfortunate experience of getting to court you will quickly learn that the legal profession thinks far more broadly about systems. Don’t think for a second that the slogans and mantras spoken and written in your organization will NOT be something you will be held accountable to in a court (https://vimeo.com/163499152 ).
Unfortunately, the evolution of the risk and safety industry has locked it into a trajectory of closed paper-based systems. So much so, the industry has little cognizance of the systems and ecologies listed above. Yet, when it comes to accountability all of these are critical in understanding why things go as they do. No wonder when being interrogated in court that Safety rarely comes off well.