Magpie | Human Safety Systems


Things We’ve Said

We’ve added a few things written by the Magpie team. Feel free to read on your own, or give us a call, and we’ll tell you all about it.


Just Culture and Accountability

The image of justice—at least as it is personified in many cultures—is of a woman, positioned high above, prominently blindfolded and holding a sword and set of scales. The scales are symbolic, of course, but suggest that searching for justice in a complex world requires a careful balance between individual and societal needs, or, perhaps, between the more elusive concepts of blame and accountability. There are a lot of organizational forces that lead us toward blame. Managers, customers, boards of directors and even interested attorneys may demand an explanation into what went wrong and what is being done to fix the problem. Just what constitutes the problem is an area of contention, though, and is what this article seeks to illuminate.


Design Thinking for Safety

The safety industry sees its fair share of fad ideas come and go, and even today, there are scores of branded products that offer to solve your safety problems.  Despite a lot of catchy names, a lot of so-called solutions to safety and risk management available today still focus on old ideas about the way we work, and the role an organization plays in the ecosystems we work within.  In practice, this often looks like an overemphasis on human error, on finding “root cause”, and on reacting to negative outcomes.  Design thinking avoids this focus on backward-looking data and instead shifts to human behavior as a centerpiece for product and system development.  Although design thinking has its own unique vocabulary, and the methods push a lot of us aviation folks out of our comfort zone, the science behind thinking like a designer is paying off in big ways in education, policy, organizational and process design, customer service delivery, and product development.  Design thinking provides a way of focusing on employees’ individual experiences and of creating processes that center on workers. The result: more compelling solutions and tools that directly contribute to employee safety, satisfaction, productivity, and involvement.



Return on investment, or ROI, is increasingly a part of the discussion of safety, and rightfully so.  While making safety decisions solely on the prospect of whether they help the bottom line isn’t helpful, neither is knee-jerk implementation of a safety strategy without some means of validating effectiveness – including a careful look at investment.  There’s a tired old axiom that safety isn’t a cost, it’s an investment.  The problem isn’t the altruistic sentiment – it’s that the conversation often stops there, well short of any meaningful support for just how safety helps the organization.  Many explanations are myopic, focusing only on the avoidance of accidents or injuries.  In fact, effective safety management permeates just about every facet of our organizations, and the potential for gains well beyond those traditionally billed as safety is not only real, it is substantial.  Without taking away from the human benefits inherent to thoughtful safety systems, an examination of how safety and business can work together to create more effective, more efficient organizations can lead to even more impactful safety management.