Linear or Non Linear Management Style? Tank Storage Awards 2020

What research shows is that our industry is often managed by linear thinking and actions only which makes management styles reactive rather than proactive or preventive. Linear causality means cause and effect thinking, but our industry is too complex to manage by an outdated cause and effect approach only. Linear management depends on written procedures, guidelines, rules or compliance methods to control risk and manage organisations. Younger, highly educated types of managers are recruited, but often lack the needed on the job experience, making communication between the workers and him or her difficult. This often leads to decisions made on incomplete information. (THE MAIN CAUSE OF INCIDENTS and ACCIDENTS) Non linear management to control complex systems such as our industry uses information as its energy to steer the organisation (system), rather than control or regulate it. Linear management is risky; I’ll give you some examples: Some technical equipment is not working properly…

Conversation & Risk Management

The beauty of conversation is the exchange of ideas. We may not always agree, but it is the best human method to listen and learn. But what happens when you think you have exchanged ideas and one party nods as if he has listened, but then turns around and does the opposite? I was recently asked to assess a company because human errors were costing money. The management asked me to find so called 'learning gaps.' I found them, but not just at the workers level, but mainly in management. The managers were holding on to a top-down, hierarchical management system which was outdated and was blocking the information feedback flow needed to control, manage and steer the company. So, I advised that management needed training and to learn a new way of systems thinking and cybernetics. Despite the proof I offered and the solutions I suggested, these were contemptuously rejected as if Bertrand Russell was still alive. He wrote the 'Value of Philosophy' and stated that philosophy…

2020 The Year of Sustainability

2020 This will be the year for sustainability. The question is how can we change an unsustainable industry like ours into a sustainable one? When we look at the drastic plans of governments demanding us to be hydrocarbon free within 10 years from now, we must work together to phase out the transport, storage and use of hydrocarbon based products and replace them with non toxic, non CO2 emitting substances. When we look closely we all know that our storage and transport industry is unsustainable in its current form for the long term. But how can storage terminals which depend on the storage and distribution of oil, gas and chemicals survive when its business model will be rendered obsolete within 10 years? There is a saying which I find very appropriate: ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too’. This means that we have to make a choice and ask ourselves in which direction will our industry be heading? If we can’t ship, store or pump environmentally harmful products any longer, we have…

Information = Energy

Energy and information obey the same laws of physics like everything else. Information is the energy to create order and structure, not only in the cosmos, but in organisations, business, politics, body and mind. Therefore, our training programs are based on information theory and cybernetics, because without using all relevant feedback a system is not able to learn and can’t be adapting in real time. This is a major breakthrough and is used by us as a non linear Risk Management tool of Complex Systems. The erasure, denial, ignoring of information increases disorder (entropy). Information reduces uncertainty. Just look at our world today and you understand why it is in chaos.
Training your people will then become much easier; we can ask 'do you have enough information to manage and control your operations? We can determine what is there and understand what is needed?
This makes training much more effective.

Why are we behaving the way we do?

I’d like to tell you something about behavioural safety. As a professional trainer in our industry I developed a two-day course called BBS, Behaviour Based Safety, which in fact is a voyage into oneself. The course concentrates on self-reflection and psychology because students don’t often ask themselves why they behave in a certain, sometimes dangerous manner. Neither do they often realise that stress can lead to narrowmindedness. Ethics is a condition for safety, because it means ‘doing the right thing.’ But what happens when someone who believes he is doing the right thing is doing it wrong? People are not flawless, they make mistakes or perceive situations differently. A good start is to understand ourselves and specifically our own brain. Different parts of the brain have different responses to decision making. Understanding that people actually have three brains might help. 1. If the decision has to do with what is perceived as danger, the first, Reptilian brain will respond fa…

Mind the learning gap

During the last eight years I have trained many marine tank storage operators on how to control the ship/shore interface and achieve operational excellence. The first thing I do is ask a simple question: are you really in control? After that I ask them ten relevant questions. Too often I come to the conclusion that full control has not yet been achieved. To control any operational or management system, the first part is to become aware about the risks and vulnerabilities of the operational system. What I observe is what is called ‘compartmentalisation’. People tend to focus on a part (their task) of the organisation. Operators do the operators’ job, loading masters theirs or management ‘manages’.  People usually look at ‘parts’ because they don’t understand the ‘whole’. If I train them to understand how the whole system should work, amazing results are achieved. I show them that if feedback (information about their responsibilities) is shared and communicated, the operations can be c…

Training, reading, learning by feedback

Training, reading, learning by feedback 01 FEB 2019 Share  What is in store for us this year? Can we predict what will happen? Yes we can, and no we can’t would be the right answer. As I wrote some columns ago, when we want to predict the future, we become Cassandras. She was able to foresee what would be happening merely by looking at all the facts, the circumstances, information, capabilities and intentions – but she was inevitably ignored. Our industry can also foresee that its operations and manufacturing systems can be maximally controlled by using ‘all’ information, i.e. by feedback. Training and education is what I do. I have always been very interested in companies and their employees who are somehow unwilling to read and therefore also unwilling to learn. They are making the same errors over and over, because facts are easily forgotten, overlooked or purposefully ignored because they hinder a pre-set goal. Training and constant learning are therefore requisites for any organi…