Checklist Seduction and The Delusion of Data

IMG_0672We learned a few days ago just how much money can be made from a safety checklist. (Meet Australia’s newest unicorn SafetyCulture and Billion dollar milestone: SafetyCulture Australia’s newest unicorn )

If anyone ever doubted ‘the seduction of the box’ mentalitie in Safety ( ), here is the evidence. Yet another indictment of an industry that meanders through the discourse of professionalism as if critical thinking is a postage stamp. This is even more pronounced as the checklist bears the brand of ‘culture’ and yet has nothing to do with culture. The iAuditor app that got this all started is nothing more than a ticking off of objects. Listing hazards tells us nothing about culture or risk.

Of course, this article doesn’t discuss the critical issue of culture or addiction of an industry to a checklist mentalitie. The principle focus of the article is just how much money can be made from the ‘checklist seduction’. If the industry didn’t have such a delusional search for checklisting then this company wouldn’t be worth $1.5billion.

If you want to find out just how much your company is addicted and seduced by checklisting and box checking, just suggest that one of these checklists be replaced by an unmeasured open conversation.

One of my students last week in the Netherlands suggested retracting a useless checklist for his company and was howled down by all and sundry, despite the fact that he proved the checklist they were using was useless, expensive and ineffective.

Another student in Austria was successful a few months ago in getting his Multinational company to eradicate zero and get rid of a number of ineffective checklists. The company saved millions and improvements in humanizing safety are already demonstrable.

The strange leap in faith in logic made by the safety industry is that the listing of hazards relates to the presence of safety. Similarly, the volume and counting of objects equates to safety just as the absence of injury is made evidence of the presence of safety. Then when one goes to things such as the WHS curriculum or AIHS BoK the same delusions are endorsed just as the delusional Heinrich Pyramid is sacralised. The crazy thing is that no volume of counting or checking boxes can ever demonstrate the presence of safety, it is completely due to indoctrination and fundamental attribution error, ably sacralised by making the global mantra zero.

Well, good luck to the company making their billions from delusion. Good luck to their shares and investments. Good luck to their divestments and spread of capital. But don’t be waiting for any change in culture in safety.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

2 Replies to “Checklist Seduction and The Delusion of Data”

  1. Couldn’t agree more Rob. When used with the right intent, they are useful but sadly, that is rarely the case. The allure of a quick and easy solution is powerful.

    1. Right on Tony. Unfortunate checklists have now been made an end in themselves, a process for not thinking, not engaging and not conversing.

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