Quickie Post — Jake’s Safety Post on Hydrogen.WSU.edu

gospels

Gospel Mountains, Central Idaho, 2011?  One of the best Lighthawk flights I’ve ever been asked to execute, around the issue of snowmobile trespass in Wilderness.

Colleague and friend Jake Leachman has written a simply outstanding post on safety, applying many of the principles of Empathetic Evolution that we’ve developed and discussed together.  Highly recommended.  The great thing about this post, besides the analysis, is Jake has pulled in other social theories to explain why they don’t work. Jake’s argument is that if you build a safety culture scaffolded out appropriately with the various v-Memes, you have a robust environment that can handle crisis when it occurs.  But if you leave it in the hands of the Authoritarians, where people will be punished for safety violations, all bets are off.  Information flow, as well as coherence, breaks down, and accident rates will rise.  But when people buddy up, share knowledge in communitarian settings (like lunches), and also develop Global Systemic feedback loops that reinforce safety culture in a pro-active manner, you’re on your way to larger happiness, as well as a safer, more productive work environment.

One thing that Jake didn’t dwell on, but I would like to emphasize, is that developing empathy and connection within your lab community will also increase the presence of consequential thinking in your safety environment.  That means accidents are prevented before they occur.  Another great thing.

Finally, one of the underutilized tools for creating safety environments is the appropriate use of humor.  I’ve been wanting to write about laughter for a while, because it’s such an interesting sentient phenomena.  Here’s the quick takeaway — while laughter can map to lots of different levels of empathy (slapstick, for example, is anti-empathetic.  Laughing at someone getting hurt definitely emphasizes in-group/out-group dynamics!)  subtle humor, and the laughter it cues, is really a gateway for suppressing the limbic fear response and opening us up to multi-solution thinking.  When you laugh at a subtle joke, it’s almost always a function of double-meaning, and it forces you to reflect on what’s really being said.  How’s that for amplification of cognitive process?  🙂

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