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Accidents happen because of idiots and stupidity coupled with no common sense ?

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On my previous Blog 'Operating with amateur crew?' I received some interesting comments, so I continue where it left off with my answer to a comment from that blog that I have copied below.

Capt Kaj said:
"Accidents happen because of idiots and stupidity coupled with no common sense. You canĀ“t teach these traits in a classroom sadly, the human nature factor kicks in again.."

OK so for arguments sake, lets look at 'Common Sense'  in a Thesaurus.  It is described with words as Judgment and perception. Now if you start to look at different ways of looking at things, (perception), and also the different lenses we use when making decisions (judgment) you may start to see that while it may not be possible to teach traits, it most certainly is possible to train and develop skills and knowledge to understand traits.

We all have our preferences, or traits, and these traits are both discoverable and learnable, they also have everything to do with Perception and Judgement .

Looking at problem solving as an example we will see some big differences in preferences:

 PROBLEM - A Charter Guest wants a PWC in the water now.The Mate is normally there to coordinate launch, but is ashore. (There is some poetic license being used I know, just go with it if you can)

Two different lenses: DECKHANDS (A) and (B)

(A) Has a preference of wanting to be thoroughly grounded in the facts analyzed in a logical framework. This person looks at day to day operations as their bedrock, is thorough, exacting,systematic,and careful with detail.

(B) Has a preference of wanting to consider values and the impact on people by identifying a future vision. This person looks to please people, is interpersonally focused, understanding, tolerant and a facilitator of good communications.

Depending on the problem, each of these people, not knowing their own preference style in depth, can look like they have no common sense to others, while the other may look like they are on top of things, and full of common sense.

How do they differ in dealing with this problem?

(A)- Knows that to get the PWC launched it takes three people to do this, and one of these people is always the Mate = (A) informs guest  that because Mate is ashore they will be awhile before the PWC is ready. = Result, unhappy guest.

(B)- Knows that the while the mate is normally there to do this launch, the Chief is aboard and will help out to launch the PWC if asked. = (B) Goes explains issue to Chief and PWC is launched with three crew, Chief instead of Mate. = Result, happy guest.

Why the difference, is it because (A) has no common sense  and bordering on stupid, while (B) is on top and has used his brain ?


Here is the same scenario, maybe different circumstances:

 (A) Knows that there is a problem that when the mate is ready to be picked up, they will be short handed to watch the guest in the PWC, and so makes his decision. Guest is still not happy, but he is safe.

(B) Knows this too, but feels that it will be OK to pop ashore and let a Stew keep an eye out while he picks the mate up, (B) is concerned about Guest happiness over safety. Guest is Happy but not safe. Stew was too busy with her stuff and did not keep an eye out for guest.

Now who is looks like they have no common sense and bordering on stupid?

Again really neither. Both are just looking at the same problem through very different lenses with no real thought that there is another way (at least not as easy as their way) at looking at things.

Until (A) and (B) understand their own and other preferences, this scenario will continue to happen. When they understand their own preferences they can start to modify their behavior and understand the other side of the dichotomy, then they can use their strengths and understand their weaknesses. We all have them, and we can only be as strong as our weakest link. Understanding your own preferences is the first step to knowing your weakest link, then you can work on how to strengthen it.

There are 4 sets of dichotomies that can make up 16 different types, each have different strengths and weaknesses, each deals with stress differently and each deals with communication, leadership, assertiveness, Self awareness, situation awareness, adaptability, analysis-event and mission, flexibility and decision making differently. When you start to understand these differences in perception and judgment you can start to deal with life and work in much more efficient ways.

What is needed as the industry grows, is perhaps not only more experienced crew, but more importantly a better understanding and better development in the Human Factor, how it affects and effects communication, leadership, assertiveness, self awareness, situation awareness, adaptability, analysis-event and mission, flexibility and decision making (basically Crew resource management).

Thoughts ?

My God Father Simon, I have to say no one has replied to your blog other than me for near on a week now because of your long winded scientific dribble and I imagine few would subscribe to your course because of the lack of interest factor in such a complicated theory. You are however correct in many of your analysis. My writing and wording was a little mis-understood, I meant that Common Sense is a trait that cannot be taught in a classroom, you either have it or you don´t. Few people have the multi talents that require situation analysis in a heart beat, then are able to make a calculated professional decision with every factor taken into account, then able to portray the right answer to the charter guest or owner. Dozens of factors are required to be able to effect this to satisfaction to all, a rare trait indeed.
Capt Kaj
Posted by: Kaj at 23/11/2010 15:03

Capt Kaj,

Yes Crew Resource management and Type can be complicated but it is still a good theory. They are well researched, and while it may sound long winded and full of dribble, the theory is sound.

You and I have two perspectives yes, but it is with knowledge and learning that we can see beyond the basic reptilian brain theories and make progress towards better communication and safer and more successful workplaces.

There are millions of other pieces at work when the Human Factor comes into play, but the basic three levels of mental programming are, Human Nature,(inherited and Universal) Culture (learned and Specific to group of work), and Personality (learned,inherited and specific to the individual).

Ooopss more long winded (*^**@&#) , sorry.

These are important levels of uniqueness to the Human factor, and while it may not be necessary to learn these for good CRM of Type they are relevant.


Get a crew together and a piece of paper each. Now with your backs turned, or paper out of sight of each other do the folowing:

Fold the paper in half, tear off the top right hand corner, then fold it in half again and tear off the bottom left hand corner, fold in half again and tear off the top left corner.(no questions during exercise)

Now unfold, and you will find you have a piece of paper that looks different to at least one other person although all followed the same instructions.

We are complex by nature. Talent is overated (Book with same name worth reading) and we can learn new things to the day we die
Posted by: simongb-N2( Visit ) at 24/11/2010 19:41

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