In this post we call attention to a recent article from The Wall Street Journal* that highlights an aspect of safety culture “learning” that may not be appreciated with approaches currently in vogue in the nuclear industry. The gist of the article is that, just as practice is useful in mastering complex, physically challenging activities, it may also have value in honing the skills inherent in complex socio-technical issues.
“Research has established that fast, simple feedback is almost always more effective at shaping behavior than is a more comprehensive response well after the fact. Better to whisper "Please use a more formal tone with clients, Steven" right away than to lecture Steven at length on the wherefores and whys the next morning.”
Our sense is current efforts to instill safety culture norms and values tend toward after-the-fact lectures and “death by PowerPoint” approaches. As the article correctly points out, it is “shaping behavior” that should be the goal and is something that benefits from feedback, and “An explicit request can normalize the idea of ‘using’ rather than passively "taking" feedback.”
It’s not a long article so we hope readers will just go ahead and click on the link below.
* Lemov, D., “Practice Makes Perfect—And Not Just for Jocks and Musicians,” Wall Street Journal online (Oct. 26, 2012).