The Weekly Reflektion 25/2021

The saying ‘beware of Greeks bearing gifts’ is normally used to refer to an act of charity that masks a hidden destructive or hostile agenda. The saying comes from Greek mythology andthe Trojan War, in which the Greeks, led by Agamemnon, attempted to rescue Helen, who had been taken to Troy after falling in love with Paris. This story is the central theme inHomer’s famous epic poem, The Illiad.

The Trojan Horse

How do people with long experience fit into todays’organizations and cultures?

In last week’s Reflektion we talked about the value of experienced people and how their experience can be important for recognizing hazards and stopping the job before an incident occurs. We were particularly focussed on the time it takes for inexperienced people to develop an instinct for danger. 

We received a lot of feedback on this Reflektion, and we would like to thank everyone for contributing with their views. There was a lot of support for our views however there were some comments that made us reflect over the challenges with ‘experience’. One of our contributors pointed out that ‘experience’ is not always positive. Sometimes the ‘experienced’ people do not adapt to the new ways of working.

We discussed how our experience with the development of organisations and cultures in the petroleum industry since we started a few years ago. Equal opportunities in the workplace irrespective of gender, race or religion. Genuine influence from the employees in the health, safety and efficiency of the way we work. Promotion of ‘One Team’ principles where people from several companies are working together rather than master-slave relationships. 

The experienced people that we claim we need comes therefore with a caveat. The willingness to adapt to todays’expectations in the way we work together.

One area where we can see a significant development is the Understanding of Human Error which is also the title of a book by Sidney Dekker that we would recommend you read.

Dekker presents two views of Human Error. The Old View that he characterises as the ‘Bad Apple view’. Things would most likely work out OK if it was not for the erratic and irrational behaviour of some unreliable people. These people and their frailties are the cause of most accidents. The New View is based on the ‘local rationality principle’ which is based on research in cognitive science. It says that ‘what people do makes sense to them at the time – given their goals, attentional focus and knowledge – otherwise they would not be doing it’. People do not come to work to do a bad job. However, for some reason(s), that seems to them rational at the time, they do something that leads to an unwanted situation, an incident or even a Major Accident. If we could understand why people did what they did rather than just being focussed on pointing out their failings then we can really make progress in the prevention of incident, accidents and Major Accidents.

So, beware of the experienced people if their experience comes with an Old View mind set. There are undoubtable benefits in the experience they bring but they also need to adapt to the organisation and the culture that you are trying to promote.

Reflekt AS