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Visar inlägg från 2012

JBSafety - I have my own company!

Dear readers,

Some of you might have noticed that the address for this blog has changed to www.JBSafety.se. The reason behind this is that I have founded my own consultancy firm: JB Safety Education and Consulting AB. The reason behind this is that I wanted to formalize the consultancy activities that I do beside my employment at Lund University, including giving lectures that do not fall within the university job description, developing team training programs, evaluating and improving safety management systems and taking part in accident and incident investigations.

Working directly together with safety critical industries, often with short deadlines, is a nice contrast to the job at the university which offers the time to dig deep, but sometimes without the immediate feedback of the work that you do. I think having the university employment as the main one and then working on the "spare-time" with more short-time consultancy project closely together with industry represen…

I got a postdoctoral research grant!

Dear readers,

Last week I got a really nice announcement. I have been granted a postdoctoral research project that I applied for in the beginning of the autumn. The funder is the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) and the project that I have been granted is an analysis of the discourse of Societal Resilience in at least three different continents (including Europe, Australia and South America). This notion has been a growing one worldwide (e.g. with projects like this one) during the last couple of years and the two questions that I would like to raise are: what is going on here and why?

This takes me in a research path slightly away from research within the traditional Systems Safety-field and towards a more societal-level analysis. An interesting journey for me personally and one which is nicely aligned with other research projects conducted at my department. I hope to be able to conduct this project for around 50 % of my time, for the coming three years, leaving me room for …

Two new youtube clips and a new blog to check out

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Dear readers, I wanted to point you in the direction of two recently published youtube clips featuring Sidney Dekker.

In the first clip Sidney introduces us to the theme of his book from 2011: Drift into failure, where he takes the reader through different ideas of accident causality and argues for a contemporary view in which Complexity Theory is used in order to show how safety critical systems are optimised "at the edge of chaos" where the same mechanisms of performance variability are vital for success, but also important contributors of failure. The argument is that in order to expand our understanding of safety, risk and accidents we must no longer go and search for the broken parts of the system, but look for success mechanisms, interactions and relations between actors. The main idea is not new. That the same organisational mechanisms that make us successful also push us towards safety boundaries have been introduced from the 1980's by theorists such as Turner, …

The master program continues

Dear readers,

My department has today confirmed that we will accept a new group of students starting the Master Program in Human Factors and Systems Safety in January 2013. As the director of the program I am really happy to give you these news since interacting in teaching with these students is the best activity ever for the young university teacher! I can throw theory at the students and they will without a doubt throw reality back at me. I love it!

As the group of applicants does not account for a full class, we can also offer the possibility to accept late applications. You find the application details at the program website.

Please note that the first mandatory activity of the program will be to participate in a learning laboratory in Lund, 21-25 January 2013. It will be loads of fun! Theory out, reality back :) We also have the possibility to join in only for our learning laboratories. In order to find out how to apply, visit our website.

New publication: Reviewing the anaesthesia alarm problem

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Dear readers,

I have not been a very active blogger the last month, and I hope to be able to have time to post updates more often during the rest of the autumn (well, spring for my Braziliand and Aussie readers :) ).

I would like to point you towards a new publication at my publications page! It is a literature review article that was published yesterday in the journal Ergonomics. This literature review article is based on the literature review that Karen Raymer, an anaesthesiologist and master student in the Master Program of Human Factors and Systems Safety, conducted for her thesis work. The article which we now have published is so to speak the argument which did set the stage for her empirical work (which I hope that we will also get published at a later stage).

In this review article different theoretical perspectives (including Signal Detection Theory, Joint Cognitive Systems Theory, concepts of data overload and coordination) are introduced in order to shed light on the probl…

Time to apply for the master program

Dear readers, since a year I am responsible for the running of the Master Program in Human Factors and Systems Safety at Lund University. The program is a one-year master that we give over two years (so half-time effort expected from the students) and the program is targeted to professionals and practitioners within safety-critical industries worldwide. The course which started in January 2012 have representatives from aviation, nuclear industry, healthcare, construction, railway and fire safety engineering and the students represent countries such as Canada, USA, Australia and Finland.

We run this program as commissioned education, meaning that the tuition fee is covered by the student's employer. For 2012 the tuition fee is 70 000 SEK for each of the two years that the student is enrolled in the program.

Studies in this program are distance-based with three exceptions. There are three mandatory so called learning laboratories during the first year (in January, June and November…

Journal article published on the topic of escalation (and some gyrocopter flying)

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Dear readers, after a really nice summer vacation I am back in the office! Defending the dissertation was a great end of a really tough spring semester. I am now looking forward to have more time for out master students in Human Factors and Systems Safety, to hopefully accept a new group of students for 2013 and to shape my professional life to come for the next couple of years.

What I wanted to tell you all now is that I just got another article published in a scientific journal. It is maybe the most important paper of my doctoral dissertation, entitled The Social Process of Escalation: A promising focus for crisis management research. In my dissertation this is paper no. I amongst the appendixes. In the thesis it is presented as "submitted", however just a couple of weeks prior to the dissertation defence we got the message that it was accepted. Now it is published in the open access medical journal BMC Health Services Research for you all to view and download (being open…

I survived!

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Dear readers, I survived Friday's dissertation defence and am now a Doctor of Philosophy (that is the only time that you will see me use that title). What this means is that I now have my academic drivers licence (to quote dear colleagues). 
The defence was quite an experience. It is indeed hard to come up with proper answers to critical (and really hard) questions on the fly with 70 people watching the ritual. It was sort of fun, but I can actually tell you I was kind of overwhelmed by the pressure that I felt during the last week before the defence. 
So the procedure itself lasted for a couple of hours: First I had 30 minutes to present my work. Then the faculty opponent, Erik Hollnagel, had one hour to make my life hard with tricky questions connected to the thesis. And he did. Really good (but hard) questions with openings for many kinds of answers and follow-up questions. After that hour the word was given to the three members of the decision committee (who are invited to ma…

The dissertation presentation

Tomorrow is D-day. D as in Dissertation. D as in Defence. So, maybe it is actually DD-day tomorrow! Time for the dissertation defence and time for getting the possibility to give a 30 minutes presentation of the 4 years of work that lie behind the words of the thesis document.

And of course I have prepared a Prezi presentation for the DD-day, and of course I would like to share it with you dear readers before giving it to the audience in Lund tomorrow. The presentation is basically my mind-map of how the research process has evolved. The basic idea is to show how three research themes were selected and based on the same research rational, research approach and theoretical framework; all aiming at exploring organisational resilience in escalating situations. Coupled to the research themes are specific research questions and they are in turn coupled to the different studies in which they are addressed. The main findings for each of the different studies are presented and finally some s…

Formal invitation to my thesis defence

Dear readers, again very welcome to my PhD thesis defence. The time is still 10:15 on 15 June in the lecture hall V:B, V-huset, John Ericssons väg 1, Lund. Faculty opponent will be Erik Hollnagel and it will surely be a couple of hours of severe sweating. The defence seminar will be followed by a lunch and a one-hour workshop in which you as the audience will get the opportunity to engage in interesting discussions with four prominent professors: Sidney Dekker, Britt-Marie Drottz Sjöberg, Inge Svedung and Kurt Petersen (unfortunately Erik Hollnagel has had to declare that he is not able to attend). The theme of these discussions will be: The research within Risk Management and Systems Safety in 2020; where are we heading?

The formal invitation is found by clicking on this text. Actually the thesis is now also properly published and available by clicking on this text.

I am so looking forward to seeing you in Lund!

The week in Brazil is coming to an end

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Dear readers, thought I should share with you some of the experiences from this week's learning laboratory in Brazil.

I arrived to Porto Alegre last Sunday, actually rather ill due to a nasty Swedish virus that got stuck. Had a temperature when I boarded the plane in Copenhagen, but the trip went ok. In Porto Alegre I was picked up at the airport by Guido, one of the research students at the faculty of Aeronautical Science here. Eder met up for a first lunch after which we spent the rest of the day in his appartement, just relaxing and updating each other of the latest news since seeing each other in Brisbane. Actually, this spring I have met my Brazilian friend Eder more often that I have met my own parents (in Sweden, Brisbane, Porto Alegre and in June again in Lund). Mum, and Dad: sorry for that. Eder, nice to see you again!

Then, also Brazil celebrates the Labour Day at first of May. So Eder and Betina were free from work both Monday and Tuesday. So, on Monday we headed for E…

Welcome to my thesis defense on June 15!

Dear readers, today my PhD thesis, entitled Escalation: Explorative studies of high-risk situations from the theoretical perspectives of complexity and joint cognitive systems, was sent to the printing shop! That means that it is about time to officially announce the date for the public defense:


Welcome to the public defense seminar which will be held on June 15, 2012, at 10:15 in lecture hall V:B at the V-building (address: John Ericssons väg 1) on the campus of the technical faculty at Lund University. The invited faculty opponent is Professor Erik Hollnagel.


The defense procedure here in Sweden is such that the student first get to present the thesis for about 20-30 minutes. Then the opponent takes charge of the discussion and asks the students difficult questions for about one hour. After that the word is handed over to the decision committee (three senior researchers and those who make the final decision whether to pass or fail the student) who also get to ask their questions. Fina…

We do have some really cool industries in this country

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At the beginning of this week I had a break in the thesis-writing process to go up to the very northern parts of Sweden (Gällivare) to teach Systems Safety for two days. The students were representing a number of industries dealing with explosives. After I had finished my session on the second day we went for a visit to Boliden's open-cast copper mine (well, they do extract some other metals from that ore deposit). The place is HUGE! I don't think that many people actually know the scale of some of our Swedish industries. In 2014 they will be taking out 36 Million tonnes of ore per year! I took some pictures, and I'll give some facts in connection to each and everyone of them. For more information about this crazy place, please visit Boliden's website. When they blast the ore into pieces (which they do once or twice per week, they use around 500 tonnes of explosives at the time... just to give you an idea about the scale of this place.

Media coverage of a master project that I supervised

Today I got a really nice surprise reading the newspaper. There was a report of suicidal prevention in the railway system. This report was based on the findings from a master thesis that I supervised. The thesis was written by Caspar Kindt and Carl Spennare at the Master Program of Risk Management Engineering. They conducted a really nice thesis work including a hotspot analysis (aiming at gaining an understanding for where the suicides take place), an inventory of possible safety efforts to make, an estimation of their effects and a pragmatic analysis of the societal payback time for implementing the suggested safety efforts.

The thesis conclusion is that investments to prevent suicides on railway tracks have a short payback time when considering the societal costs of completed suicides. The thesis should soon be published at this Lund University website, and the article written in the newspaper Sydsvenskan is found here.

Moderating a seminar: Independent assessment authorities

Dear readers, today I have a pause in the thesis writing. Instead I am heading for Norrköping, where I will take part in moderating a discussion at the Swedish Civil Aviation Department regarding their role as an assessor of the civil aviation actors. This seminar is one in a series of seminars arranged by the Swedish Society for Risk Sciences (where I am part of the board). In this series of seminars we visit five Swedish  authorities to ask them what role the tendency to establish independent assessment functions for various societal activities has had in their area of interest. This tendency (which is having  that we are interested in can be labelled "the arm length principle"and implies that any stakeholder with the task to assess any societal activity (like the one of transporting people through the sky) should be located at least an arm length of distance from the stakeholders being assessed.

In the case of the Swedish Civil Aviation Department the bureaucratic soluti…

Tomorrow: Final seminar. It is getting close...

Back in Sweden since Sunday. Jetlag is not a problem, but the slush of southern Sweden that fell from the sky this morning is just not welcome.

As a part of the dissertation process the PhD candidates at my department usually take their thesis manuscripts through an early form of dissertation opposition procedure. We call that a final seminar and is basically an internal seminar in which the colleagues of the PhD candidate (other PhD students, associate professors, supervisors) discuss an early draft of the PhD thesis.

Tomorrow it is my turn to be the target for such a discussion. Actually feels a bit weird after having participated in a number of my colleagues final seminars it has no come to the point of my own. I guess that feeling will be even more evident on the day of dissertation.

It is a good procedure with these final seminars. It feels nice having a number of colleagues going through the thesis manuscript to help out in trying to improve it. In that way the process of writi…

Yesterday: Moral philosophy and the development of western culture.

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Yup, that is life here in Brisbane! The learning lab was yesterday morning dedicated to a presentation held by one of the post-docs at the Griffith University's key centre for ethics, law, justice and governance. The theme was moral philosophy and he nicely guided us through different philosophical views of the act "killing someone for fun". A really nice introduction to theories such as virtue theory, deontology, human rights, and utalitarianism!

In the afternoon I went with Sidney, Roel and Eder to a lecture about the development of western culture. The thing is that Sidney last week left his job as a director for the key centre for ethics law ju... (well, see above) to become a professor at the department for humanities. Really cool job where one of his new tasks will be to teach the history of western culture and academic writing to undergraduates. An interesting task indeed for the professor!

So for today: we will dedicate the learning laboratory here to complexity…

Tourist pictures from the weekend

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Brisbane is a truly beautiful city! We have been doing the downtown city tours the last weekend and below are some pictures from that. Did not have much opportunities to update the blog last week. Mainly two reasons for it: (1) very limited time with Sidney taking us to all sorts of meetings, seminars, dinners... full schedule and great fun! (2) very limited internet connection (the Aussies wants pay for wifi!).

Anyway, today we have started this week's learning laboratory with Jim Nyce going through the origins (and different paradigms) of Social Science. Tomorrow we will do Complexity Theory - that should be fun!

Enjoy the pictures.










Hello Subtropics!

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After a 29 hour trip, here I am! I arrived yesterday morning (Brisbane-time which is 9 hours ahead of Swedish time) and after a short train ride to the city centre Roel met me up at the train station. Check in at my hostel, a shower and then a coffee by the man-made beach right in the middle of the city centre. Perfect start of the visit! Then we went up to see Sidney at the campus of Griffith University. SOO nice to see him again! We are very well taken care of here at the university. They even prepared a little office for me, Roel and Eder. Just like old Lund-days! This morning Eder arrived (after a 45 hour trip from Brazil… crazy…) and we are now enjoying some working time together in our temporary office.

Now lunch with Sidney and this afternoon we will hang out at his place, barbecuing in his outdoor kitchen, taking a swim in the pool and having a beer or two.

Still not jet lagged on my second day here. I am so made for traveling the world :-)

Enough slush and viruses - I'm off to Australia

Yes, I am! Two weeks in Brisbane to gather with my colleagues and friends Sidney, Roel, Eder, Jim and some previous as well as current master students. For this event, which I have indeed looked much forward to for a long time now, I have prepared a first draft of PhD thesis for the best critics that I know (Sidney, Jim, Roel and Eder really are) to dig into. It will be great to have them roasting it and hopefully coming up with nice ideas for contributions.

Then we should also have a learning laboratory with Jim drilling us in the social science classics, but of course we will mostly have a great couple of social weeks! Looking forward to bears and long conversations by the pool side. And hopefully some time to get to fly some gliders. Long time since I did that!

That's it - heading set for the land down under. And to you slushy country, I'll be back in two weeks. All tanned and healthy :)

Some recent reflections and thoughts

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Dear readers, I am currently in thesis-writing-mode. That is the main reason why I have not picked up some of the latest interesting topics out there in a blog-reflection. The writing effort goes in to the thesis in order to get it done before the summer. However some short reflections can be made.

First of all: What a fantastic class of master students we have taken in to the master program in Human Factors and Systems Safety! Amanda, Sue, Kristine, Stephen, David, Michel, Juha-Pekka, Ralf, Hadi: You guys rock! The amount of experience in that group is just amazing and I am really privileged getting to spend the coming two years in close interaction with all of you. The learning laboratory last week was full of interesting discussions, deep dives into the theoretical pool of human factors and systems safety, stories from nuclear plants, hospitals, subways, mines and icy airplane wings, and nice social evenings in Lund. Being able to continue to run the master program is nothing but …

New publication: Complicated, complex and compliant

A central part of my work concerns applying complexity thinking to understand (or interpret) normal (and non-normal) work in high-risk environments. In order to do so the first thing one must do is to argue for the need for such an approach and the benefits of applying it. That is what we have tried to do in a publication, that has now been published in the journal Cognition, Technology & Work, and that I am much proud of.

In this article we use the data that I have gathered during a couple of years of working close to the healthcare domain. Results form observatory studies, interviews and participation in debriefing sessions following serious incidents build up the argument that in order to understand the limits of compliance-based approaches to deliver care we need to understand the complexities of healthcare work and the paradox of using compliance-based approaches to manage complex situations. The conclusion is that with complex systems being resilient when they are diverse t…

Time to welcome the new master students to Lund!

And so at last it is time to welcome the new group of master students to their first learning laboratory here in Lund. They come flying in from all over the world this weekend and from Monday to Friday next week we will have an intense week of interacting and learning together.

This is the kickoff of the one-year master program in human factors and systems safety that the students will go through mainly from a distance. The study speed is half-time, so it will take them two years to finish. During these two years the students will take reading courses in the new view of human factors and systems safety, theories of risk and accidents, the ethical aspects of safety, qualitative method, and finally they will have the opportunity to use their own organizations as data sources for their thesis work. Three times over their first study year we will gather in Lund for one-week learning laboratories.

These one-week interactive courses are also open for participants that are not students in th…