SEEK is not a Method

You can find out more about the SEEK workshop in Brisbane to be held in November here: https://safetyrisk.net/essentials-in-investigations/ and download the SEEK flyer here: http://cart.humandymensions.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/SEEK-Brisbane-91011-Nov-2016-2.pdf

SEEK is not a Method

When one looks at popular ‘methods’ of investigation often you will find that underlying values, ethics and philosophy are not made clear. The focus is on the method after all, we just want to know what to do in the moment of crisis. The trouble is, when we undertake a method and design, we also take on the hidden assumptions of that design, its weaknesses, dated ideas and blind spots associated with the founding philosophy of that investigation design.

Most investigation methods on the market are mechanistic and ‘technicist’ in focus. There is rarely any discussion of the problems of subjectivity and bias in investigation, objectivity is method and in the investigator is assumed. It’s good to have a model but when you role up to an accident site full of distress, suffering and confusion, it might be good to also have some skills in pastoral care and effective listening.

For some reason most of the popular methods of incident investigation in the risk and safety market have come from engineering or legal sources. So, popular investigation methods bear the myopia of those disciplines. Whilst those disciplines are focused on methodical accuracy and process, the benefits of other traditions and disciplines are missing. In particular, the importance of understanding social-psychological factors is a vacuum in most popular models of incident investigations. Many times I am called in after an incident investigation has taken place and get staggered at the massive gaps and blind spots in how an event has been investigated. So much has been assumed, source and frames are not questioned, subjectivities are not assessed and, culture is rarely considered a factor.

Usually culture runs under the radar in popular incident investigations because the mechanistic and behaviourist worldview that dominate safety understands culture as: ‘what we do around here’. This is perhaps the worst definition of culture I know. There is much more to culture than this simplistic definition that misdirects and confuses safety people.

imageIn response to the popular methods of investigation on the market I decided to develop a training program called SEEK. SEEK starts by acknowledging the many biases in investigation and the myth of objectivity in popular methods. Strange how popular methods all have a sequence of what to do but hardly ever do anything about the real challenge of HOW to do it. Unfortunately, many popular methods have behaviourist and mechanistic assumptions that have a trajectory that ‘gets the outcome that is expected’.

Great to have a method but, how about listening skills? How about pastoral care skills? How about critical thinking skills? Cultural theory skills? What about understanding bias and perceptions, motivation and the fundamentals of helping? What about effective questioning and understanding how social arrangements affect decision making? All these are absent or quite weak in popular models of investigation.

In the SEEK approach, there is not a focus on method but rather a focus on personal values, ethics, social-psychology and philosophy. By the end of the program participants often adapt or reconstruct their own method (or a popular method) to make it less limited and blind. SEEK provides practical tools and perspectives to help in this reconstruction including: work on causal loop mapping, SEEK tool, iCue and iThink tools.

You can find out more about the SEEK workshop in Brisbane to be held in November here: https://safetyrisk.net/essentials-in-investigations/ and download the SEEK flyer here: http://cart.humandymensions.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/SEEK-Brisbane-91011-Nov-2016-2.pdf

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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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.

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