The second edition of Sidney Dekker’s Just Culture: Balancing Safety and Accountability

Posted by Luigi Fort, Senior Marketing Executive, Aviation and Human Factors

Building on the enormous success of the 2007 original, Dekker revises, enhances and expands his view of just culture for a second edition, additionally tackling the key issue of how justice is created inside of organizations. The goal remains the same: to create an environment where learning and accountability are fairly and constructively balanced.

The First Edition of Sidney Dekker’s Just Culture brought accident accountability and criminalization to a broader audience. It made people question, perhaps for the first time, the nature of personal culpability when organizational accidents occur.

Having raised this awareness the author then discovered that while many organizations saw the fairness and value of creating a just culture they really struggled when it came to developing it: What should they do? How should they and their managers respond to incidents, errors, failures that happen on their watch?

In this Second Edition, Dekker expands his view of just culture, additionally tackling the key issue of how justice is created inside organizations. The new book is structured quite differently.  Chapter One asks, ‘what is the right thing to do?’ – the basic moral question underpinning the issue.  Ensuing chapters demonstrate how determining the ‘right thing’ really depends on one’s viewpoint, and that there is not one ‘true story’ but several. This naturally leads into the key issue of how justice is established inside organizations and the practical efforts needed to sustain it. The following chapters place just culture and criminalization in a societal context. Finally, the author reflects upon why we tend to blame individual people for systemic failures when in fact we bear collective responsibility.

The changes to the text allow the author to explain the core elements of a just culture which he delineated so successfully in the First Edition and to explain how his original ideas have evolved. Dekker also introduces new material on ethics and on caring for the’ second victim’ (the professional at the centre of the incident). Consequently, we have a natural evolution of the author’s ideas. Those familiar with the earlier book and those for whom a just culture is still an aspiration will find much wisdom and practical advice here.

Contents

Preface
Prologue: A nurse’s error became a crime

  1. What is the right thing to do?
  2. You have nothing to fear if you’ve done nothing wrong
  3. Between culpable and blameless
  4. Are all mistakes equal?
  5. Report, disclose, protect learn
  6. A just culture is your organization
  7. The criminalization of human error
  8. Is criminalization bad for safety?
  9. Without prosecutors there would be no crime
  10. Three questions for your just culture
  11. Why do we blame?

Epilogue
Index

About the author: Sidney Dekker is Professor of Humanities at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Educated as a psychologist in the Netherlands, he gained his Ph.D. in Cognitive Systems Engineering from The Ohio State University, USA. He has lived and worked in Sweden, England, Singapore, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. The author of several best-selling books on system failure and human error, Sidney has been flying the Boeing 737NG part-time as an airline pilot.

What people are saying about the Second Edition:

‘Thought-provoking, erudite, and analytical, but very readable, Sidney Dekker uses many practical examples from diverse safety-critical domains and provides a framework for managing this issue. A ‘must-read’ for anyone interested in safety improvement, but also, one hopes, for politicians, law-makers and the judiciary.’    Dr Tom Hugh, MDA National Insurance Ltd, Sydney, Australia

‘With surgical precision Sidney Dekker lays bare the core elements of a just culture. He convincingly explains how this desired outcome arises from a combination of accountability and (organisational) learning. The real-life cases in the book serve to drive his arguments home in a way that will be easily recognised and understood by practitioners in safety-critical industries, and hopefully also by rule makers and lawyers.’   Bert Ruitenberg, IFATCA Human Factors Specialist

‘Just Culture is essential reading for airline managers at all levels to both understand the endless conflicts that staff face trying to deliver the almost undeliverable and to reconcile accountability for failure with learning from that failure. A soul searching and compelling read.’    Geoffrey Thomas, Air Transport World

More information about Just Culture: Balancing Safety and Accountability 

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