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4 tricks in the bag to introduce beneficial randomness in risk assessment (hazard identification) interviews

4 tricks in the bag to introduce beneficial randomness in risk assessment (hazard identification) interviews

Mar 9th, 2016

In our last blogpost we discussed the “Daddy what’s that?” attitude. We adopt it during our site visits and interviews to disrupt workers’ (or stakeholders) complacency. That attitude introduces that randomness that psychological tests have shown to be so important.

drainage tunnel to stabilize a landslide

Over the years the “Daddy what’s that?” attitude has brought incredible benefits to our clients and great professional satisfaction to us.
Our goal is not to perform an audit, it is not a policing act. All we want to achieve is to gain as quickly as possible an unbiased and factual understanding on how the system (operation, process, team) works in reality. We want to see what lies beyond “official” flow charts and organizational schemes.

We have 4 more “tricks” in the bag to engage our audience. Here they are.

1) The “Avatars deck of cards”. This deck consists of 8 cards, each one representing a “avatar-character” typically encountered in organizations.

4 tricks in the bag to introduce beneficial randomness in risk assessment (hazard identification) interviews

In the figures you can see, for example Mrs Rozy Scenario (card), avatar of the overconfident, hazard and risk unaware character. Mr Perryl Shield (card), is the character that believes that technological, brute force mitigations can solve any present and future problem.

Perryl Shield

At the beginning of the interviews

At the beginning of the interviews, whether they are one on one or group, we ask participants to select the avatar they believe most closely expresses their attitude toward hazards (risks) and mitigations. During the course of the interview we keep challenging the interviewee if we detect a divergence between the explanations they give and the avatar character. It is fun, people enjoy it, and it helps finding “cracks” in the stories without it being personal.

2) The “Buddies Hazard Identification Role Play”.

We ask all the participants to split in (3-4) groups “as they see fit”. Generally this leads to “buddies groups” (possibly based on age, sex, cultural background, mind-set). We task each group to perform hazard identification on the system after the system has been modeled and a detailed explanation of what is a hazard has been given.
As each participant to each group has previously selected his/her Avatar, we engage the individuals and the groups based on their statements and Avatars. We also ask the groups to launch into contradictory discussions on their findings. Organizational “currents of though” emerge. Alpha representatives become visible independently from their hierarchical status. Concerns and hazards are sorted out (we are not really interested in concerns, unless they prove to have potential to generate risk exposures.

3) The “Alternative Buddies Hazard Identification Role Play”.

Very similar to the prior one (point 2), but delegates evaluate themselves in terms of their audacity and change appetite using a scoring system before splitting in groups as they see fit. The rating system delivers a finer evaluation than the Avatar deck of cards. It opens the door to a specific test (see point 4 below) that is run during the second part of the Hazard Identification. In some cases we can ask delegates to use the deck of cards, then auto-evaluate and discuss blatant divergences.

4) The “Well Balanced Groups Hazard Identification Role Play”.

We present a questionnaire. It helps deriving a personal objective audacity and change appetite rating and related “talents”. We ask delegates to fill it in. Delegates can now discuss the gap between their self-evaluation and the test rating, in view of understanding how this can impact their hazard awareness and mind-set. We then create working groups with “equilibrated” teams (in terms of audacity and change appetite).

Like in points 2,3 above we now task each group to perform hazard identification on the system. That of course after we model the system and a detailed explanation of what constitutes a hazard. Like above, we engage the individuals and the groups, ask the groups to launch into contradictory discussions on their findings. Organizational “currents of though” emerge. Alpha representatives become visible independently from their hierarchical status. We sort out concerns and hazards. Note: we are not really interested in concerns, unless they prove to have potential to generate risk exposures.

This is a summary of what we find useful during hazard identification interviews. One does not need to perform the 4 approaches. The selection is made on the spot, based on the preliminary interactions with the audience and the degree of willingness to participate.

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Category: Consequences, Hazard, Probabilities, Risk analysis, Risk management

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