Be Prepared for Risk
by Hayden Collins from http://www.riskintelligent.com.au/
I walked into McDonalds this week for a coffee and noticed that their latest placemat on their tray is a promotion for Scouts Australia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scouts_Australia ). As I looked at this promotion and its ‘frame’ of reference, I saw young people in the messy puddle of adventure, play and fun. What captivated my interest was the tagline ‘and experience reality’.
The picture on the placemat tells a fascinating story if one knows the history of the Scouting Movement (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scout_Association ). Here we have a tradition founded in adventure, military discipline and creativity defined in the motto ‘be prepared’. The interesting thing about this history is that preparation for life was achieved through the experience of risk. The founder of Scouts was Baden Powell (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Baden-Powell,_1st_Baron_Baden-Powell) On the placemat we read that Scouts ‘take young people into the outdoors to meet nature, have adventures and build relationships’. In this way the Scouts continue their tradition of building leadership through experiencing risk.
The foundation of Scouts is based in the philosophy of ‘Service Learning’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Service-learning ). Service learning is a philosophy of learning that understands experience, community and relationship as a teaching dynamic. Rather than attaching to the dynamic of ‘schooling’, the Scouts know that experiencing reality is best developed though ‘camping, the bush, abseiling and service to the community’ (on the placemat).
What I love about the Scouts (was never a member) is how adaptable they have been and still been true to their vision and philosophy in recent history. There are many things that the Scouts have given up in order to remain relevant to 2017. Yet, as a movement they have been in decline and are now in a hiatus. I wonder if this is because our society has become so a tune to risk aversion through the excesses of Safety, that adventure doesn’t make sense? I wrote about this in my third book Real Risk, Human Discerning and Risk (http://www.humandymensions.com/product/real-risk/) including a profile of Dick Smith as a Scout and promoter of the link between innovation, adventure and risk (p.57). The fear of risk is the fear of learning.
So when we look at the placemat, we are looking at some boys and girls (Scouts was never mixed sex) learning. When your frame on life is adaptive and innovative, its no wonder that even the organization (Scouts) can learn and give up dearly held principles (single sex) that block relevance. What a shame that safety (entrapped in fear and eversion) cannot give up many crazy symbols and activities which are absolutely irrelevant to risk (https://safetyrisk.net/nonsense-curves-and-pyramids/). When your frame on life is aversion and fear, then adaptive learning is beyond reach. No wonder that Safety doesn’t know how to give up on paperwork and silly practices like counting TRIFR rates (https://safetyrisk.net/trifr-safety-zombies/ ).
So where will we find leadership in safety? Not in a conference where we hear ‘more of the same’ safety mythology. Not in a boardroom where ‘measurement’ is king. Not in a in a social media pool where risk doesn’t make sense. The key to safety leadership is is maybe taking a leaf out of the Scouting experience and coming into Risk Reality.