Human Dymensions Newsletter September 2016

Human Dymensions Newsletter September 2016

Welcome to this packed Newsletter with heaps of news, research and information on the work of Human Dymensions and The Social Psychology of Risk. If you got this second hand and find it helpful then subscribe here:

Social Sensemaking

It is great to announce the publication of Rob Sam’s book Social Sensemaking, A Reflective Journal; How We Make Sense in Risk. You can read my review of Rob’s first book here:

In celebration of this excellent book I am giving away 5 copies to the first 5 people who request a copy at Please ensure the subject of the email is ‘Social Sensemaking Offer’. (Please note: Generally give aways are snapped up within the first 30 minutes of the issue of the Newsletter.)

You can purchase the copy of Rob’s book here:


The Digital Delusion and Balance in Learning

There is a strange belief that if one goes online or does things digitally things are somehow ‘better’ or ‘improved’. Whilst it is good to be able to type this article on a keyboard and computer, there are trade-offs and by-products in going digital and they are not all good. There seems to be a naïve belief in risk and safety that everything is somehow better on an iPad or online but it is a trend we ought to take with caution.

I received a lovely gift of appreciation this week from a dear friend – it was a leather journal. Inside was a beautifully penned and personal note of appreciation and a creative poem that spoke volumes about gratitude, life, living and learning. The hand written poem in the front cover was also a gift, a personal dedication of time, reflection and a symbol of love. In our busyness such gifts are rare. The pic of the journal is attached and I will use it wisely.

Recent research demonstrates that the nature of writing with pen or pencil on paper is kinesthetically, intellectually and personally more rewarding than using a laptop. ( Drawing, colouring-in and sketching have not only been demonstrated as effective therapy for mental health but research shows that retention and creativity improves with a more kinesthetic approach to tackling conceptual issues. (,

The by-products of shifting all things onto digital platform of course makes it much easier to undertake a ‘tick and flick’ approach to non-thinking, already a huge problem in risk and safety. The ubiquitous on-line induction and associated problems of anti-learning have also been discussed in our recent Risky Conversations video series ( A checklist on an iPad is still a checklist.

There are also a host of other anti-social by-products and trade-offs in taking everything online, as discussed by:
Turkle – Reclaiming Conversation, The Power of Talk in a Digital Age and, Alone Together, Why we expect more from technology and less from each other.
Carr – The Shallows, What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
Kirkpatrick – The Facebook Effect
Jackson and Jamieson – un-Spun, Finding facts in a world of disinformation
Sunstein – Infotopia
Keen – Digital Virtigo
Van Dijck – The Culture of Connectivity, A Critical History of Social media

The idea that we are somehow more efficient and smarter for going digital must be set off against the fact that more and more people have less time to reflect, think and read. I often hear comments about getting the ‘cut down’ version or, just send me a ‘2 pager’. The trade-off for digital efficiency is time for reflection, discernment and wisdom.

Now, this discussion is not about being a Luddite. I am well aware of all the benefits and downsides of the digital philosophies of training. Unfortunately, the naïve belief in elearning (sic) as such is often unquestioned and supported religiously without question. Somehow all medicine is better because of the machine that goes ‘bing’! (

The challenge ought to be to find a balance.

Does this mean that all things should go back to pen and paper? – of course not. But we need to realize that the more and more we go digital and online, the more we rob ourselves of time to contemplate, reflect and think as we undertake flick ‘quick’ emails and SMS, only later to regret our lack of thought and strategic thinking.  If we consider the importance of learning then we need to be more critical in our thinking about the trajectory of the medium we adopt. No medium of communication or learning is value neutral.

When it comes to philosophies of learning there are not much better than Ken Robinson, Parker J. Palmer and Guy Claxton. Robinson in particular is a world leader in the nature of the unconscious in learning and has recently released his latest book Creative Schools, The Grassroots Revolution. I highly recommend his other works like The Element, How Finding Your Passion Changes Everthing and Out of Our Minds.

Similarly,  Claxton is an outstanding thinking in education and learning, try reading – Wise-Up, The Challenge of Life Long Learning and Hare Brain Tortoise Mind, How Intelligence Increases When you Think Less.

And also Parker J Palmer – To Know as We are Known, Education as a Spiritual Journey.  In particular I would recommend watching anything of Robinson on Youtube

Somewhere and at some time we need to reflect about where our methods and language about the ‘digital revolution’ are talking us. Are we any better now in leadership, teamwork or collaboration because we are digital? How does a thousand friends on social media make one any more social? I recently withdrew from Linkedin because of its toxicity, perhaps one of the most unprofessional forms of social media in the online space. I now only maintain one online presence and that is a closed Facebook group where we have a forum for critical thinking and research in leadership and the social psychology of risk:

The Certificate and Diploma courses (that are discussed later in this Newsletter) on offer are therefore an intentional balance of foundations in face-to-face learning before any online options are offered.

The Challenges of eLearning, Finding a Balance

The idea that eLearning of itself is a solution to the many costly challenges of education is one of the self-perpetuating myths of the eLearning sector. The research (Choi and Lee, 2011, A review of online course dropout research: implications for practice and future research Education Tech Research Dev (2011) 59:593–618 ) shows that dropout rates in eLearning are a significant problem. One may be able to overcome the challenges of time, place and some costs but the trade-off is borne out in poor relationships, isolation, comprehension-based learning and alienation of desire for future approaches to learning. There is a place for eLearning but it’s not the panacea that it is cracked up to be.

Choi and Lee (2011) found that there is much that is hidden in the ‘spin’ of eLearning advocates, evidenced in the cause of dropout rates in their research. The idea that eLearning challenges are just about problems with technology, adaptability, IT literacy, time management and self motivation  ( ignores the deeper issues associated with the anti-social facets of eLearning.

Ashhurst’s research (‘e-myths’: derailing the success of the ‘e’ in learning Training and Development in Australia Volume 30 Issue 6 Dec 2003) tackles many of the myths of eLearning head on. Again with a view to an holistic understanding of education Ashhurst challenges the myth that going digital in and of itself must be educative (Ashhurst’s paper can be accesed here Indeed, the work of Ellul shows that the Archetype of Technique (The Technological Society downloadable here: anchors people to the myths of electronic as educative, what Ashhurst calls ‘e-myths’.

Humans are profoundly social learners, we learn best through relationships, social engagement and experience. No amount of eLearning can tap into the human need for real relationships and real social engagement in learning. Choi and Lee identified 70 factors that affect eLearning dropout rates (BTW much higher than face-to-face dropout rates) and many of these factors are tied to relational and social factors.

The ‘hidden curriculum’ of online inductions and eLearning is a subtle foundation that says – ‘we have no time or money’ to shake your hand and ‘meet’ you. This is especially the case if eLearning is used as the first point of contact. All the problems associated with social media are present in such a scenario. In online inductions and eLearning there is no opportunity to ‘read’ context, eye-ball someone, listen to underlying social-psychological issues and develop understanding through reciprocal engagement – neither is Skype a solution. Seeking technical methods for human solutions don’t mix easily.

If contact and relationships have been developed then eLearning can be quite helpful, and provides a platform so that communications cannot be misread or distorted due to a lack of relationship. It is impossible to build trust and understanding digitally.

SEEK (Social Psychology of Incident Investigations) Workshop Proposed for Brisbane 9,10,11 November 2016

The final public workshop for 2016 is proposed for Brisbane 9,10,11 November and is the SEEK (Social Psychology of Risk Event Investigations Program) workshop.

The workshop will be held at the View Hotel (Cnr Kingsford Smith Drive & Hunt Sts HAMILTON) 8-4pm each day. The cost for the three days is $1350 including manual pack, tools,complemetary Risky Conversations book and compendium goodies. You can register here:
And download the Program flyer here:

If you feel bogged down in reductionist approaches to incident investigations or, want to know more about what can be done beyond the limits of the popular models about, then this course is for you. The Program is more than just putting positive spin or ‘just culture’ discourse an old model nor is it a theoretical critique of current models. The SEEK program is radically different because it has a very different foundation (Social Psychology of Risk) than other models of incident investigation.

The workshop provides practical tools to extend how you undertake investigations from the foundation of The Social Psychology of Risk.

The SEEK Module forms part of the Certificate in the Social Psychology of Risk Program.

A discount is available for participants who have attended previous workshops.

Report on SEEK Workshop in Melbourne


A great group gathered in Melbourne for the SEEK workshops in late July 2016. You can see the outline of the program here:

The Program has a practical focus on how the Social Psychology of Risk affects the way we investigate and how people make decisions about risk. Whilst there are clear flaws in the root cause approach (, the focus of SEEK is to add value to common models by including tools based on social psychological knowledge and principles (hence the title).

Report on Social Psychology of Risk and Semiotics Workshop Canberra September 2016

A great group gathered in Canberra at Westwood Farm Kambah for the Social Psychology of Risk and Semiotics Workshop in September 2016. The setting on the farm was a major factor in understanding the nature of semiotics as well as the semiotic walk in the Parliamentary Triangle. For some of the group this formed completion for them of the Certificate in the Social psychology of Risk.


Report on Intro to Social Psychology of Risk Workshop in Perth

The first session on An Introduction to the Social Psychology of Risk was held in WA in August at the Tradewinds Hotel in Fremantle in August 2016. A great group enjoyed the interactive 3 day program which has since be applied to a major civil project in Perth by one of the participants and Roy Fitzgerald from the Human Dymensions team in Perth.

You can see an outline of the Program here:

The pictures attached show participants working on a semiotic language of risk audit activity.

The next Introduction to the Social Psychology of Risk Workshop (Module 1) will be held in February 2017 at the Wayside Chapel Kings Cross Sydney. You can register interest for the mailing list for that Unit here:

Mental Downtime Essential for Health and Well Being

Recent research Scientific American Mind (Sept/Oct 2016) shows that we all need a break, but more importantly, total downtime from work The idea of always being available on email or phone is not necessarily all good and some companies are realizing this. Ferris Jabr tells the story of a Mark Bertolini, a CEO of a large company with 50,000 employees called Aetna. Bertolini had a skiing accident in 2010 and what followed is instructive for us all. Bertolini, after learning in his recovery decided to build in opportunities in his company for yoga and meditation at work, and the results were amazing. It seems strange that the more people took up some escape from the ‘perpetual preoccupation of work’ that the culture of the organization improved.

The myth that ‘responsiveness is effectiveness’ and that a ‘culture of busyness’ are good are dispelled by Jabr. He also shows that a single large block of holidays eg. 4 weeks, is not as effective as taking 4 blocks of vacation of 1 week each. What his research shows is that more and more people are not really having a break from work because of the various addictions to technology. Jabr also shows that people who can totally switch off actually are much more refreshed than those who remain contactable by phone. Even though they may not receive any calls Jabr argues, they unconsciously and psychologically remain work-focused.

News on Study, Courses and Modules for 2017

We are currently working on three new websites to help better manage the education and training process in the Certificate (4 modules) and Diploma (4 modules) Programs. Soon all ten modules (a mix of face-to-face and online) will be available to download and commence registration. Watch out for announcements in the next Newsletter in January 2017.

Please note that online modules are not available without at least twon modules first conducted face-to-face. Once anyone has completed at least two modules face-to-face they are then entitled to complete other modules online at significantly reduced cost, this applies to both the Certificate and Diploma. Whilst individual module Certificates are awarded example to left of this article), the Social Psychology of Risk Certificate and Diploma come with a full statement of Body of Knowledge and Competencies gained in the course of study.

No other provider is able to deliver this qualification or training in the Social Psychology of Risk Body of Knowledge (

Costs Compared to University Studies

A University unit costs approximately $3500 per module meaning, a graduate certificate costs $14,000 and a graduate diploma $28,000. The Social Psychology of Risk Certificate costs under $4000 and the Diploma under $8000. All Certificates are awarded through the Centre for Leadership and Learning in Risk.

Full details of all course offerings (face-to-face and online) will be in place by December 2016 ready for 2017. For the moment available modules will be notified through Newsletter, subscribed registrations of interest, on the SafetyRisk website and on the Human Dymensions Workshops space:

Discounts are available for participants from overseas.

Becoming an Accredited Associate of the Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR) Group

There are now more than 100 people who have completed more than 4 units in the Certificate and Diploma in the Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR) and therefore have become SPoR Associates. Becoming an Associate entitles access and use of SPoR (copywrited and trade marked) tools that help in organizational change, culture diagnostics, leadership development and tackling risk. The tools and resources available are documented in the Social Psychology of Risk TOOLS Handbook which is a free giveaway offered later in this Newsletter.

All Associates will also receive a free copy of book number six in the Risk Series entitled – Risk Doability, Practicing Social Psychology in Risk.

SPoR Associates gather together on the SPoR facebook Group where there is much sharing of research and resources.

More news on benefits for Associates will be included in the Newsletter January 2017. An Associate Certificate will be offered to all Associates in the coming weeks.

Risk Doability, Practicing the Social Psychology of Risk

We are hoping that book six in the series on Risk will be available by January for all SPoR Associates only. Here is the except from the back of the book:

One of the criticisms often thrown about in training and learning environments to do with risk is: ‘this is not doable!’ In other words, nice ideas about the Social Psychology of Risk but, it’s not practical.

One purpose of this book is to demonstrate the practicality of exercising the Social Psychology of Risk at work.

The book brings together the theoretical and practical and is ‘chock a block’ full of tools, visual aids, models, semiotic assistance, curriculum, templates, checklists, guidance, teaching aids and learning help for all SPoR Associates.

The book is intended to be a cross between a catalogue and resource centre for thos ewho want to train and educate as Social Psychology of Risk Associates. The book commences by providing and overview of the nature of the Social Psychology of Risk including and introduction to the Social Psychology of Risk Body of Knowledge (BoK).  The Body of Knowledge is introduced semiotically rather than through text, which is in keeping with the history of the Social Psychological tradition.

One of the main reasons for compiling this book is to demonstrate that the Social Psychology of Risk is eminently doable. The tools and activities that appear in this text are used on a daily basis with many organisations Nationally and Internationally.

The catalogue of tools and activities are mostly presented semiotically that is, through symbols, images, signs and text used to apply the Social Psychology of Risk at work. A number of the tools are self-explanatory although most tools will not make sense unless they are contextualized within the training that accompanies them. Thsi is best understood by SPoR Associates.
Only those who have undertaken training in the Social Psychology of Risk are entitled to use these tools with permission from Dr Long. Soon Associates will be issued with an Associates Certificate (based on a minimum of 4 modules of study).

Doability Stories

The following Doability stories give an example of what can be done to change culture, replace paperwork with productive and safe strategies for managing risk and, use a suite of tools that help change the safety malaise.

Doability Story 1. Induction Design and Modifications

We are currently working with Alkane Resources on redesign of their Induction process. This is being undertaken with the assistance of InVision Pictures so that the static nature of the induction can be much more engaging and interactive. The re-design is being undertaken by Dr Long and the team based on solid principles of adult education, experiential learning and pedagogy. If you are interested in an assessment of your induction or would like to discuss a redesign of your induction, please contact:

Doability Story 2. MiProfile News

Human Dymensions have completed several Organisational and Safety Culture in 2016 using the MiProfile tool ( We have recently completed survey work with NSW Roads and Maritime Services, Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains, Watpac Constructions, Alkane Resources and Waterways Constructions. The valuable data obtained from the survey (including extensive qualitative nVivo notes) enables targeted and strategic decision making in the business about tackling risk. If you are interested in accessing this service please email

Doability Story 3. Leadership and Culture Programs – Queensland Sugar

The kinds of positive and practical things that can be done in tackling risk in organisations is exemplified in work with Queensland Sugar. Dr Long has been working with Queensland Sugar in The Risk Maturity and Social Psychology of Leadership Program for the last three years with amazing results.

The workforce speak a new language and have a new suite of tools in tackling risk. ‘There is not only less paperwork but far more effective leadership in risk across the organization’, commented Damian Ziebarth General Manager – Operations. ‘The way we engage in conversations, understand and tackle risk is far more mature than it has ever been’. Commented Hamish Hancox Manager EHS. He said, ‘The inclusion of a risk maturity approach with our EHS strategy has seen improvements in learning and leadership with people as the solution’

In consultation with Dr Long, QSL Manager EHS redesigned their frontline risk management documentation to incorporate the Workspace, Headspace, Groupspace tool. This new approach has created a multitude of opportunities for users including the translation of important values and beliefs.

All Operational Supervisors and Management at QSL have completed the four day Front Line Leaders Program and Leadership forums respectively as well as a range of follow up workshops to embed the use of Social Psychology of Risk tools in the business.

Doability Story 4. 10 Years with BUILT

BUILT is one fo the fastest growing and successful building and construction companies in Australia. Dr Long and Human Dymensions have been conducting the popular safety Conversations and Observations Program with BUILT now for 10 years. BUILT use the Program as a form of induction to culture, perception, motivation and conversation in their organisation. Dr Long is proud to be associated with BUILT and recently celebrated more than 10 consecutive years of working with BUILT in risk, safety and leadership.

Yes, We Know Safety is Dysfunctional, But What Can We Do?

I received two emails yesterday from someone on a building site (with pictures) entitled ‘pissy $4it’ (his words). The email documented a host of silly things that they were being made to do in the name of safety on a building site. Then in the second email another set of pictures arrived of all the things that were incredibly unsafe that were being totally ignored. None of the nonsense he was asked to do is required by any Act, Regulation or Standard. None of the nonsense was actually about high risk, all of what he was being asked to do at best would prevent maybe a cut or a bruise.

Meanwhile, across the site were open trenches, unstable ground with plant and mobile cranes movement, open penetrations, unguarded edges at height and a host of other major problems that were being totally ignored. The emails were full of frustration and anger at ‘just how much bullshit’ safety is. What is worse, all of this unnecessary stuff costs more, slows the job down and promotes scepticism and cynicism across site because of the insane inconsistencies projected by ‘children’ (his words), who don’t know what they are doing. The outcome is a culture that is more risky than ever.

I receive emails like this regularly, this is how safety is identified in building and construction.  Attached to this cultural nonsense is an unsubstantiated fear that all this nonsense is somehow required or ‘covers our arse’ in court. At the same time the Regulator sends out mixed messages on paperwork, the Union confuses safety as a strategy to muscle in on an EBA ( and the Commonwealth Government uses the ABCC to muscle back at the Union (–and-pauline-hanson-could-hold-the-key-20160711-gq34e4.html). And the loser is? Risk and Safety. Where is their voice in this? (Please insert the noise of crickets).

Yesterday we learned from the Victorian Ombudsman that Workcover has been plagued by collusion, distortion and corruption in the malaise of workers compensation in that state. The report ( states (p.4):

‘We found agents cherry-picking evidence to support a decision to reject or terminate a claim – as little as one line in a medical report – while disregarding overwhelming evidence to the contrary. We found Independent Medical Examiners (IMEs) – whose opinions agents use to support their decision-making on compensation – receiving selective, incomplete or inaccurate information. We also saw evidence that some IMEs were used selectively to advantage the insurers – including those described by agent staff as ‘good for terminations’. Further:

‘We found examples of agents maintaining unreasonable decisions at conciliation, in some cases despite acknowledging that the decision was unreasonable and would be overturned. In effect, we found cases in which agents were working the system to delay and deny seriously injured workers the financial compensation to which they were entitled – and which they eventually received if they had the support, stamina and means to pursue their cases through the dispute process’.
So it seems, that in many places safety is not being served well. We know there is an excess of paperwork but few know how to give up the fetish. Even if one does manage to reduce the burden of paperwork, what can one do to move forward? The response has to be something positive. People want to know what to do, what tools and strategies are available to actually move safety forward in a positive way. It’s fine to know what is wrong, but what tools and strategies can be used to head in the right direction? How can we move up those steps in the Risk Maturity Matrix more than we move down ( This is where many of the tools, programs and services that we provide come in. Human Dymensions is all about the positive to do stuff.

Registration of Interest in Social Psychology of Risk Modules – Perth

Roy Fitzgerald and Dr Long recently completed the Introduction to the Social Psychology of Risk three day module in Perth in August and a great deal of interest was shown for more modules to be delivered in the West.

If you are interested in being included in a mailout on other modules being offered in Perth in 2017 please register your interest at

Please ensure the email subject is ‘Registration of Interest PERTH’

Registration of Interest in Social Psychology of Risk Modules New Zealand

There has been much interest in delivering some Social Psychology of Risk Modules in New Zealand. If you are interested in being included in a mailout about modules on offer in 2017 please register your interest at

Please make sure the subject of your email is ‘Registration of Interest New Zealand’

Risky Conversations Video Project

The latest book Risky Conversations, The Law, Social Psychology and Risk is comprised of transcripts of discussions between Rob Long (Social Psychology), Greg Smith (Lawyer) and Craig Ashhurst (Organisational Thinking) and demonstrates a transdisciplinary approach to understanding risk.

The purchase of the book ( gives access to 22 videos on a range of topics that tackle many concerns and associated with the challenges of risk at work.

The videos were produced by InVision Pictures and form the backbone of the project. Greg Smith ( is a highly experienced and practical lawyer who engaged with Rob and Craig ( over 3 days of conversations and questions on such topics as:

• Paperwork
• Training and education
• Inductions
• The High-Vis challenge
• Do systems cover you in court?
• Root Cause
• What have we learned – Case Studies and Disasters
o Pike River
o Macondo
• Practical tools for tackling risk
• Risk and culture diagnosis
• The problem of fear and its by-products
• Bush-lawyers and myths about court
• What really happens in court?
• The problem of binary thinking and the subjectivity of the law
• Dialogue and conversations about risk
• The challenge of ALARP
• What is Due Diligence?
• What is risk?
• Why is risk a wicked problem?
• What is doable and practical in the field?

Five videos from the 22 set have been released for free and can be viewed here:

The book and video project were launched in Perth in August 2016.

All books and special deals on sets of books can be purchased here:

There are 5 book give always at the Competition later in this Newsletter.

The Social Psychology of Resilience (Resilyence)

The Social Psychology of Resilience gives a whole new focus on understanding and tackling resilience.

Gabrielle Carlton delivers a number of programs that bring together the learnings from Social Psychology and apply them to how people develop resilience in the workplace.

The focus of most programs in resilience are primarily individualistic and focus on mindfulness and bouncing back from adversity. The programs of Resilyence ( take a holistic focus on situation, ethics, organizational context, social norms, diligence, cultural and sub-cultural indicators, practical tools in helping and communality and how resilience is fostered by strategies that humanize the workplace.

If you are interested in any of Gab’s programs please contact her at

Social Psychology of Risk TOOLS – Free Offer by Application

As part of the theme of Doability, you may be interested in the following free email offer, only to subscribers of this Newsletter.

Dr Long and Associates use many practical tools with organisations to help them shift from paper-focused solutions to people-focused solutions. These tools help organisations manage and tackle the challenges of risk at work. Some of these tools are listed and demonstrated in the Social Psychology of Risk TOOLS Handbook.

All the tools are semiotically and graphically designed for maximum effect  but some tools may not make complete sense without some level of training in the Social Psychology of Risk. People cannot have permission to use the tools without becoming an Accredited Associate.

You can see a list of some of the clients we have worked with here:

The Services and Programs of Human Dymensions can be downloaded here:

So here is the special offer: If you would like a copy of the Social Psychology of Risk TOOLS Handbook (all the tools are copyright) please apply for a copy here:

PLEASE use the email subject ‘Request for SPoR Tools Offer’ Thanks.

Competition – Find the iPhone – This is a Tough One

This is a tough one and took me hours to find. Once you can see it, it becomes easy, like all illusions.

The first 5 people who can tell where the iPhone is (facing down) in the pic above will receive a complementary copy of Risky Conversations, The Law, Social Psychology and Risk.

Email with your solution.

REMEMBER, prizes generally go off within one hour of posting this newsletter.

New Videos Out Now on Vimeo

Our Vimeo site ( now averages over 1000 views a week and is growing. Thanks for following.

A new video that animates the Risk Maturity Matrix has been put up ( ) on the Vimeo’s site.

The fifth video for public release on the subject of Fear has been put up on the Vimeo site from the Risky Conversations 22 Video project. ( )

You can gain access to all 22 videos in the Risky Conversations Project by purchasing the book:

If you want to keep up with released videos you can become a follower of the site.

Other Links and Blogs

Safety Risk

Brain Pickings

Kevin Jone’s Safety At Work Blog

Daniel Hummerdal’s Safety Differently Blog

The Philosopher’s Mail

The Risk Intelligence Blog

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below