Real Risk, An New Icon for SafetyRisk and Competition
We know about the power of icons and brands, those in marketing know how the unconscious is influenced by sign systems and symbols. Signs and symbols, gestures and icons form a critical part of organisations as cultural artifacts. We underestimate their influence at our own peril. One only has to observe the rigid compliance with which International companies hold on to their icons with copyright and trade mark, with colour and shape definition to realize that icons ‘speak’ much more than themselves.
The power of icons and iconic thinking is also something I considered in the presentation of all my books and tools in the Social Psychology of Risk. (SPoR). This is not something I can do but include extensive consultation with instructional and graphic designers. Every book cover, every SPoR tool and model ‘speak’ at several levels – the conscious/rational, cognitive/psychological and unconscious/cultural. These can be thought of as WorkSpace, HeadSpace and GroupSpace™.
It is interesting to note in the history of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) that iconoclasm (a rejection of icons/ ‘breaking of images’) is foundational in assumptions about ‘primitive’ and ‘advanced’ thinking. The rejection of iconic rituals, symbols and poetics (commonly associated with Catholicism) in the Reformation, enabled the emergence of nominalist, empiricist and positivist thinking essential to STEM. This connection is well documented by Yelle (2013) in Semiotics of Religion, Signs of The Sacred in History.
Unfortunately, STEM thinking has thrown the proverbial semiotic baby out with the bath water. Hence many in safety don’t understand the icon of zero as a numeric icon with unconscious influence. The representative significance of an icon is easily tested by seeking to have it removed (that’s the nature of iconoclasm). For example, once zero is in place in an organization it is extremely hard to remove it and its associated psychological sunk cost. Similarly attachment and attribution of value to numeric and counting deficit indicators is equally hard to remove despite no demonstrable connection between such numerics and the presence of safety. The zero icon helps cement the dynamic of numeric in place. Indeed, Yelle argues that STEM knowledge hasn’t really ditched religion at all but has simply replaced old icons with new icons, old rituals with new rituals and old magic with new expressions of faith.
This brings us to the new icon for the SafetyRisk site. The icon depicts a person in a dialectic leap of faith (Kierkegaard), into the arms of a catching community. The community is comprised of young people and signifies the unknown future. The amber colour is also significant as it captures the meaning of optimism, innovation, creativity and learning. This stands in distinction to the anti-learning icons of risk aversion. The icon is in three parts also signifying the movement of learning and triarchic nature of dialogue. There is a past, a present and an unknown future. We don’t know if the person taking the leap of faith lands safely or not, his faith is in the catching community and this is the risk. The essentials of trust, relationship, care and hope are embodied in the leap and signify the uncertainty of the future and the fallible nature of human mortality.
Competition – Win a Copy of Real Risk, Human Discerning and Risk
As a response to the new icon we would like to offer a give-away to the first 10 people who send in a risk and safety icon and a brief 5 line description of its significance. The first 10 entries (regardless of location across the world) will be mailed a signed copy of Dr Long’s third book in the series on risk – Real Risk, Human Discerning and Risk. You can find out more about the book here – http://www.humandymensions.com/product/real-risk/
Send your entries (with a postal address) to firstname.lastname@example.org