Zero Vision Creates Mindless Gobbledygook
When you commit yourself to a nonsense unachievable goal, idiotic language and binary targets, you have no choice but to speak endless gobbledygook. This is the only conclusion one can come to when reading the latest nonsense from IOSH magazine
Whenever you frame your existence by a number (https://safetyrisk.net/its-always-a-number/) and then try to apply STEM thinking to fallible humans, you will always end up speaking gobbledygook.
So, let’s just have a brief look at what the editor of IOSH writes. Starting with a discussion on Covid-19 she is already on a hiding to nothing. Oh yes, my goal for Covid is zero, how’s that going for you?
Then out comes the word ‘hope’. There can never be hope in seeking infinity for fallible humans. Seeking zero for fallible humans is a lesson in depression, anxiety and non-achievement. Zero can never be a reality in this world, it runs against all we know about the randomness of the world and fallible humans. So, did Zero predict the pandemic? Two million dead so far, yep that sounds like zero to me. When the stats are already at 2 million fatalities, zero sounds like a nonsense target especially when no vaccines are 100% effective. You see, if you decided to talk in absolutes to fallible people the by-product is always an outcome of dumb.
By the time we get to paragraph 3 of this short editorial piece we already know that when you set your global mantra by a dumb goal, you can’t go back. This is because the binary logic of the whole zero ideology doesn’t know what to do with numbers and injuries. When you measure the presence of safety by the absence of injuries, you are on sinking ship. Even so, in this paragraph the editor admits that from the 1980s to 2021 zero has not been achieved. Hmmm, in any body’s book that’s 41 years of failure by any metric. And if your ideology is framed by metrics and numerics, you will always get a by-product of brutalism.
Then paragraph 4 gets even better. In comes the word ‘motivation’! Hmmm, how does 41 years of not achieving an ideological goal develop motivation? We learn the fundamentals of SMART goals as 101 in any management course, and we know there is no motivation unless the goal is achievable. Well, there’s 41 years of not meeting a goal but press on, well get there by 3035.
Zero vision is not a vision, it’s a nonsense ideology a dumb industry got caught in because it doesn’t know what to do. When you set your ideology by numerics, injury rates, binary opposition and a closed epistemology, your only outcome is dumb.
Ah yes, ‘it’s a long road ahead’ but never question the assumptions of a failed ideology. As the editor suggests and knows this ideology of zero is ‘unrealistic’ and ‘unattainable’. Wow, how motivating is that. There’s a sure way to get everyone ‘positive’ about safety. That’s right, out comes the dumb logic again, it’s about having a target and navigating a pathway towards it. Ah my goal for life is zero death (https://safetyrisk.net/my-target-goal-is-zero-death/ ), zero suffering and zero injury, how’s that goal going?
What a dumb industry this is, setting unattainable goals and then telling people to be positive and motivated. Of course, the cover of the magazine says it all. Poor olde Safety always fixated on numbers, always bogged down in the quantitative quagmire of quanta (https://safetyrisk.net/the-quantitative-and-qualitative-divide-in-safety/ ) Always anxious because it set a dumb goal that cannot be achieved (https://safetyrisk.net/measurement-anxiety-in-safety/). You can bet on one thing, if zero is in the title of a safety book, there is no vision for anything humanizing.
Well, don’t let reality get in the way of an idiotic non-vision. Just keep batting on hoping that you will hit infinity one day. But let’s talk about that reality. Here are the current results of the zero survey (https://safetyrisk.net/take-the-zero-survey/) with over 1000 participants results show:
· 85% of the industry doesn’t believe in the nonsense of zero.
· 95% of safety people believe humans are fallible
· 72% believe accidents are not preventable
· 92% believe zero is unachievable
· 70% believe zero leads to bullying and brutalism in the workplace
· 92% believe zero creates dishonesty
· 94% believe the industry would be better off without zero ideology
So we can see, all this constant ideology of zero will do to the industry will divide it, fragment it and create an industry of normalized schizophrenia. According to me that would be a mental health injury.
Then if you want to get beyond the editorial into the IOSH magazine itself you can read more gobbledygook and sheer delusion in ‘Striving for Perfection’. Ah, good olde Safety off the scale on the DSMV 5 on seeking perfection as the first sign of a mental health disorder (https://psychotherapy.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.2015.69.3.317 ). Here is an industry with no vision virtually creating mental harm by its own ideology. Count those sometime and find a zero.
As you read this gobbledygook in the article you see in bold enlarged print ‘A lot of fatal accidents we see are underpinned by poor decision-making’. There you go, the pathway to zero is the pathway to blaming. Not bad for an industry that has no idea about human judgment and decision-making with no coverage of the subject in the AIHS BoK or any safety curriculum globally.
Read further in the article and it just gets worse in discussion of leading indicators (ah we must have measurables) for zero. Then in bold in the article is a counting box stating all the times in the UK zero was not achieved.
How could anyone be inspired or motivated by this ideological nonsense?
The end of the article is pure nonsense:
Alan Stevens, head of strategic engagement at IOSH, says that what is needed is a ‘Kaizen continuous improvement mindset’. Zero fatalities, and even zero accidents, is already happening at site level in a time-bound sense, he notes. ‘You go into a factory and they are proud of having no accidents for a certain time. It’s about how we extend that. It’s a bit like a marriage – you have to keep working at it. It’s not a line you cross and win the race.’
How embarrassing, who sets a goal in their marriage for zero mistakes?
What a useless metaphor. Who would ever talk about their marriage in perfectionist terms? Isn’t the divorce rate about 50%?
What a great way to close an article on zero comparing injury rates to a marriage. I’m sure my wife would be delighted if I bragged about achieving zero for 3 seconds in a 47 year time period.
The real challenge for safety is not counting silly numbers but like a real marriage understanding that higher order goals (https://safetyrisk.net/goals-and-vision-in-safety/) are critical. We know the key to an effective marriage is not numbers, not mistakes, not error, not prevention but: effective communication, understanding, trust, helping, care, listening and forgiveness.
These are all the higher goals that the safety industry (fixed on a numbers) has no idea about and will never come close to understanding as long as its sets it sights by the ideology of zero vision.