You Don’t Believe in Common Sense?
Another Hard Hitter by Dr Robert Long from www.humandymensions.com
The Coroners decision confirms it, there is no ‘common sense’, it can’t be assumed and we shouldn’t talk about it because it dumbs down the industry and perpetuates a delusional myth.
On 5 July the Queensland Coroner has found three men who died while working on the Federal Government’s home insulation program had not been given adequate training. You mean you can’t install pink batts with ‘common sense’? Apparently not. Coroner Michael Barnes said in all cases the workers had not been given adequate training or supervision by the companies involved. (http://au.news.yahoo.com/latest/a/-/latest/17868243/insulation-deaths-coroner-finds-men-who-died-while-installing-pink-batts-were-not-trained-properly/ )
Isn’t it amazing that the construction industry still talks about ‘common sense’ as if it exists and then learns the hard way that it doesn’t. I heard from a friend the other day with a Queensland (The Zero Harm state) construction company in a toolbox talk being told that: ‘the door of safety swings on the hinge of common sense’. What absolute illogical and irresponsible nonsense. Tell that to the Coroner and see how long you last. Yet, the construction industry maintains such nonsense language in many of its conversations. I even heard a comment on the day the Coroner released his report that said: ‘common sense would tell you not to place metal staples over electrical cables’. Well guess what, if such a thing existed, you wouldn’t have to request it. What an offence to the parents who lost their three young sons.
The construction industry talks about common sense but doesn’t believe in it. If I come on to a construction site I am met by a person who signs me in, escorts me around the site and if I stay for any time I am inducted on to the site. Why do all these things if common sense is somehow going to keep me safe? The sheer demand made by advocates of common sense that people use ‘common sense’ proves that the speaker doesn’t believe in it. The reality is that sensemaking is not held in common. The Coroners decision confirms it, there is no ‘common sense’, it can’t be assumed and we shouldn’t talk about it because it dumbs down the industry and perpetuates a delusional myth.
The language we use and how it is ‘framed’ are important, our language ‘primes’ a population of people to think a certain way. The priming effect of language is something all leaders in industry should know. The way we transfer our messages is as important as the message itself. Leadership knows that the transfer of vision and messages is both reciprocal and critical in cultural formation. This is why the concept of zero harm leadership (http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/07/zero-harm-at-work-leadership-transport-safety-showcase/) is a nonsense. How can any idea of leadership maintain such a nonsense and illogical idea? When did absolutist and perfectionist language inspire and motivate anyone? How does a fallible leader expect perfection in others that they can’t maintain themselves? How do promoters of such illogical messages manage the fallout when people won’t follow such nonsense? How do the advocates of such language explain how nonsense language can be leadership language, especially when the majority of the workforce don’t believe in it. (MiProfile data 2013).
It doesn’t matter whether its the language of ‘zero’ or ‘common sense’ management by illogical perfectionist discourse is alienating and is anti-leadership. Coroner Michael Barnes certainly finds this to be so.