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Normal Accidents, High Reliability, Wicked Messes (ST-ON 2021-08-09)

Choosing topics for a Systems Thinking Ontario session, it seems as though the term “Normal Accidents” was not one familiar to many, particularly those who were not old enough to recall popularization coinciding with the 1979 movie The China Syndrome.  The interest then on High Reliability Organizations would also be news to most of our usual attendees.  Thus, a session based on readings was announced ….

Have we learned from brushes with disaster, or have we become complacent about complexities in everyday life?

This video has been archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
August 9
(1h32m)
[20210809_ST-ON_Ing NormalAccidentsHighReliabilityWickedMesses FHD.m4v]
(FHD 578kbps 456MB) [on the Internet Archive]

Audio downloadable onto mobile devices was transcoded from the video into MP3.

Audio
August 9
(1h32m)
[20210809_ST-ON_Ing NormalAccidentsHighReliabilityWickedMesses.mp3]
(90MB)

On March 28, 1979, an accident with a nuclear reactor occurred at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania. Twelve days earlier, an Academy Awards winning film The China Syndrome had opened with a story fictionalized from a 1975 fire at a nuclear plant in Brown’s Ferry, Alabama, raising public awareness of an issue. For a Presidential Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, sociologist Charles Perrow contributed organizational analysis report. On a sabbatical to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1981-1982, that report expanded to include other high-risk systems, becoming the Normal Accidents book, published in 1984.

In the 1990s, a group at Berkeley initiated by Todd LaPorte noticed some high-hazard organizations who able to consistently manage risks to be failure-free.… Read more (in a new tab)

Choosing topics for a Systems Thinking Ontario session, it seems as though the term “Normal Accidents” was not one familiar to many, particularly those who were not old enough to recall popularization coinciding with the 1979 movie The China Syndrome.  The interest then on High Reliability Organizations would also be news to most of our usual attendees.  Thus, a session based on readings was announced ….

Have we learned from brushes with disaster, or have we become complacent about complexities in everyday life?

This video has been archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
August 9
(1h32m)
[20210809_ST-ON_Ing NormalAccidentsHighReliabilityWickedMesses FHD.m4v]
(FHD 578kbps 456MB) [on the Internet Archive]

Audio downloadable onto mobile devices was transcoded from the video into MP3.

Audio
August 9
(1h32m)
[20210809_ST-ON_Ing NormalAccidentsHighReliabilityWickedMesses.mp3]
(90MB)

On March 28, 1979, an accident with a nuclear reactor occurred at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania. Twelve days earlier, an Academy Awards winning film The China Syndrome had opened with a story fictionalized from a 1975 fire at a nuclear plant in Brown’s Ferry, Alabama, raising public awareness of an issue. For a Presidential Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, sociologist Charles Perrow contributed organizational analysis report. On a sabbatical to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1981-1982, that report expanded to include other high-risk systems, becoming the Normal Accidents book, published in 1984.

In the 1990s, a group at Berkeley initiated by Todd LaPorte noticed some high-hazard organizations who able to consistently manage risks to be failure-free.… Read more (in a new tab)

Evolution of open source IBIS software

As a way to enable conversations about wicked problemsIBIS (Issue-Based Information Systems) software seems to have evolved over the past few years.  While the academic support of IBIS software has carried an open source license, part of the community has become independent of the university.

For those unfamiliar with how an IBIS might work, Jeff Conklin (at the Cognexus Institute) had done a lot of work on Issues-Based Information Systems (IBIS) based on Rittel and Webber‘s “wicked problems”. The open source software supporting this is Compendium.   See the “Limits of Conversational Structure” | Jeff Conklin | April 10, 2008 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxS5wUljfjE .

Simon Buckingham Shum, from the Knowledge Media Institute at The Open University UK, mapped the first UK election Tv debate in 2010 (or at least the few first minutes before his connection was interrupted).  “Dialogue Mapping election debate video” | Simon Buckingham Shum | April 23, 2010 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPF64UXFER0.

Paul Culmsee, an issue and dialogue mapper in Australia, shares some of his experience in facilitation based in three videos.

As a way to enable conversations about wicked problemsIBIS (Issue-Based Information Systems) software seems to have evolved over the past few years.  While the academic support of IBIS software has carried an open source license, part of the community has become independent of the university.

For those unfamiliar with how an IBIS might work, Jeff Conklin (at the Cognexus Institute) had done a lot of work on Issues-Based Information Systems (IBIS) based on Rittel and Webber‘s “wicked problems”. The open source software supporting this is Compendium.   See the “Limits of Conversational Structure” | Jeff Conklin | April 10, 2008 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxS5wUljfjE .

Simon Buckingham Shum, from the Knowledge Media Institute at The Open University UK, mapped the first UK election Tv debate in 2010 (or at least the few first minutes before his connection was interrupted).  “Dialogue Mapping election debate video” | Simon Buckingham Shum | April 23, 2010 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPF64UXFER0.

Paul Culmsee, an issue and dialogue mapper in Australia, shares some of his experience in facilitation based in three videos.

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