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Battle for the Soul of Process Safety: How to Align the Brain and the Organization to Improve PS Outcomes

  • Type:
    Conference Presentation
  • Conference Type:
    AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
  • Presentation Date:
    March 27, 2017
  • Duration:
    30 minutes
  • Skill Level:
  • PDHs:

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Conventional wisdom holds that the Process Safety Goals of the Organization and the Individual are roughly in tune: the Organization wants to keep PS incidents to a minimum so that its employees are kept safe and that their fixed and variable costs are kept down; the individuals who work for the Organization want to keep safe and keep being paid for doing their job. This paper will argue, however, that the drivers of the individual’s Brain and the Organization are sufficiently incoherent so as to merit attention.

It will argue that, as the most complex organism in the known universe, the Brain is very energy hungry and has thus evolved to be extremely efficient. It drives relentlessly from conscious incompetence (very energy sapping) towards unconscious competence. However, the Organization would be better served by a group of consciously competent Brains, avoiding the perils of complacency and a tendency to violation.

Furthermore, Brains strive to maintain the status quo, which is the low fuel consumption option, while Organizations must constantly improve, feeding back the experience it gains, or risk begin overtaken.

So what to do. The paper will suggest that while Organization culture is very hard to rapidly change, modifying mindset is more effective. Moving from a fixed mindset which is reinforced by success praise, to a growth mindset, which is underpinned by effort praise. Organizations can also look for better ways to incentivize the Brain to engage with the hassle of change in order to generate safer working habits.

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