Safety FM with Jay Allen
Nippin Anand
March 16, 2021
Today on The Jay Allen Show, we speak with Nippin Anand. During our conversation Nippin discusses some new technology that him and his team have created to track safety correctly. Hear it all today on The Jay Allen Show!
Today on The Jay Allen Show, we speak with Nippin Anand. During our conversation Nippin discusses some new technology that him and his team have created to track safety correctly.

Hear it all today on The Jay Allen Show!

Thanks to Safety FM+ for sponsoring this episode of The Jay Allen Show.

[00:00:00] :  this show is brought to you by Safety FM. Well, hello and welcome to another episode of the J. Allen show. Mhm. Yeah. Believe it or not, we are already at episode 1 68. Oh, yes. 1 68. Well, today I sit down and have a conversation with Nipple Denard nipping is going to discuss all kinds of different factors when it comes to the world of safety and how he believes that we are actually tracking safety incorrectly. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Nipple Denard right here on the J. Allen Show Safety FM changing safety cultures what? One broadcast and one podcast at a time. So I know that the last time that we had a brief conversation, you were in the middle of starting off of doing some things of taking a look at some new potential data. And I definitely wanted to pick up where we left off there, so yeah, let me give you some background to it. So we we started off this project, we call it providers. And the idea really J is too. To make reporting systems more conversational. Uh, so what do I mean by that? Typically what you see, Reporting systems are very linear. Very one way communication. You'll be very lucky that you reported something and you actually heard something back that really happens. Uh, So what we're trying to achieve is a two way conversation, actually, multiple conversation. And that conversation is not just restricted to between the, let's, say, the line manager or the HTC department, uh, and and the person who reports it, it actually goes lateral. So it creates a community of practice where people engage in conversations and and and try and make meaningful sense of it. And and through those conversations, uh, you come to understand the richness of the problem, try to understand the problem, and then you come up with a solution that actually is meaningful in that context. So that's that's that's really what we're doing. So how did you come up with this concept? How did you take a look and say Okay? Things are not going the way that you were liking at the time. And you say, Hey, let's sit back for a moment and come up with a new concept altogether. Yeah, So there's a couple of reasons Uh, j I mean one is my my own personal experience of being involved in a near collision at sea. Uh, and, uh, this goes back to 2000 and one. Uh, and we we wrote a report as a result of that collision, Uh, and the way in which the report was processed and analyzed by somebody who was completely removed in time and space, uh, missed out the everything and, uh, typically, a report like this would end up into something like You should have done this. You should have done that. You should have been more careful. You should have followed the procedures. Um, so that that really was a starting point for me, which I I didn't understand at all. At that time, I thought that's the way it should be. I should have been more careful, and I should have kept at a safe distance from another ship. And so it's only through a very personal journey. In the last 10, 15 years or so, I came to realize that there is There is the same story can be told in 10 different ways by 10 different people. When I undertook a PhD in social sciences and anthropology and uh, And then I became a safety inspector. I got I really got very intrigued by this idea that, you know, what is it that people report and what are the real experiences? And the two are miles apart most of the times. Uh, I also saw it in the the cost of Concordia case. You may have heard of that. You know, I look at accidents. I've heard that you do a class on this. Of course I've heard of this. This is one of the things that is associated to your name automatically. Okay, so, uh, so this is where we, we we we What we did was we created a second story of this accident. So one is the official version of the accident, like a safety report, as I described to you earlier. And then there is a very different narrative. And that narrative normally comes from people who experienced this, who who were who were in that moment. So why not hear their story, try and understand their story. So what I used to do all this while was that, as as as I was during my journey as a safety professional, that pull out a report and then start to engage with people who are actually involved in that situation. What you see is a completely different understanding of the situation. So, uh, it was only a year and a half ago when I got a chance to to approach the oil and gas technology Center, the U. K in Scotland, where I'm based. And I, uh I mean, I I drafted a proposal to say we could We could learn a little bit differently than what we have been doing so far. And here's my proposal, and what I would like to do is I would like to take a chunk of reports from some some companies and and help them understand. What is it that they're missing in these reports? So we did this work for the last year or so with a few a couple of data scientists myself, and what we then started to realize was there was a problem at three different levels. One is that reporting, as I said to you is, is very one directional and misses out the context. Uh, the second thing we saw was the analysis, and the processing of the data is nothing but a but a hunt for the teddy bear, which is the human error. Um, so most of the times we keep reinforcing what we already know rather than actually engaging with the people and trying to understand. So our analysis is very superficial, but also very meaningless to the to the to the purpose, which is to improve performance. Uh, then I saw a problem with how organizations learn very centralized learning. You know, you have a couple of people or a handful of people sitting in one department removed in time and space, uh, telling people what they should be doing through safety reporting or sorry. So, through safety bulletins and through newsletters, which is, uh, doesn't engage people at all, So so that's the background to it. So we came up with a slight different way of engaging, which is we call it a more conversational system. And what it does is it is. It's a few things. J. One is that it connects people more laterally, so it creates a community. It creates conversations within the organization that cut through departments cuts through hierarchies. Uh, it's very much more informal. Uh, and it's It's what you realize it's not, You know, when you when you create these conversations, what you realize it's it's not so much about safety. It's about everything. It's about performance. It's about relationships. It's about well being, Uh, so that's That's one thing it does, and then at the back of it. What it also does is it creates a searchable and reliable database of knowledge. So if there are things that have happened before, you can always go back to it. You can refer back to it, and that's something we find is missing in many companies that were not very good at retaining knowledge, especially when you have a lot of, uh, temporary workers. You have a lot of shift work. You have people who are, uh, scattered across geography expertise, scattered or disposed across geography. Uh, and in time, uh, we are not very good at, um, utilizing this knowledge contextual knowledge. Um, so that's what we ended up doing, Jake. So let me let me ask a couple of things here. As you start off through this process, you you acknowledge what is going wrong currently around the systems and how we're doing the reporting in the structure and so on. So as you're developing this and now you have this readily available. If an organization was interested in understanding some of these data points that this could actually benefit them as an organization, where do you think that they would need to be in their journey? Because, I mean, there's some aspects that you're talking about there in regards of Okay, there's somebody normally that's sitting kind of back, and they they're kind of doing the work performed versus work imagined. But as you look at this, what is the organization or the people that are reaching out to you? Or that you would envision reaching out to you about being able to obtain this style of reporting? Um, so what? You're what? The question that you're asking is that what is the organizational need for this kind of a system? What? Right. So what does the organization look like? Because, of course, all organizations are going to be in a different part of a journey. But at what point are they going to realize that this is something of need? Because here's the thing, and you know this and I know this. There's still some division out there where people go. Oh, we have a culture and then we have a safety culture opposed to it all. Being combined to win when you're talking about this number system when you're talking about this reporting structure you're talking about is all encompassing. So how would this work? How would the organization, you know, your ideal client come about? And now this is what this is what we're looking for because most of the times when you're interacting with someone, they're not sure what they're looking for yet. So how would they know that this is This is the key to open what they need inside of the organization. It's It's a It's a really good question, Jay. Um, and it goes back to the idea that if you don't have a purpose, uh, you don't you you don't know what you're measuring. Uh, so the starting point really is. And the way we do it is that we, uh, in most, and the presumption is the organization would know what they're looking for, but that really is the case. So we take a step back and and try and engage with the company and one of the first things. Starting point is that let us have a look at your reporting system. How is it that you measure performance? Uh so by looking at the reporting system by looking at technical failures, product failures, operational failure, safety data, you come to understand the maturity of the organization where you are, and that is the starting point really To say, Okay, this is where you are. This is these are the issues, and this is the point from where you need to make a change. And this is depending on how fast and how far you want to go. So a large part of our work is really about trying to understand where the organization is. So as you look at this, then because this is where it kind of gets kind of odd when it comes to organizations and let's have the conversation here is essentially Then I would imagine that we're envisioning someone who's I would say, operation centric, that's looking at looking at the at the style of reporting. And there would also be almost having to admit to themselves that they have a problem on how they're doing their reporting structure. Would that be an accurate statement. No, it won't be. The thing is that sometimes when you're in the process, J. You don't realize where you are. It's very, very difficult to to anchor and then create a benchmark to to be definitive about it. And I think sometimes it comes as a surprise and a shock to you as we looked at some of the companies where, you know, the data clearly shows that, uh, somebody is reporting something. They're bringing up concerns. But the only thing we are doing is that we are going back to them and saying for the procedure, and they are coming back to us and to say that the procedure is not working and the only thing we keep repeating is but no go back in front of the procedure. That's yes. No, it's such a true statement. It's Here's where we've had a failure. Go back to the procedure or let's retrain the people that are out there where this failure occurred. And it's something as as Todd says all the time, let's do the training louder and you know, more stern in regards of it's going to accomplish something. So you talked also at the very beginning of this of community of practice. How do you visualize that? How do you take a look at this whole thing where you have where it kind of breaks down the hierarchy of the whole thing? And all of a sudden it's everybody having this community of practice in conversation. How do you envision this actually working within the organization? That's a good question. So, um, the way we have designed the system here is that we have kept everything very transparent and open, and one of the reasons for keeping it transparent and open is that reporting systems are very opaque. Uh, and they there is a There is an awful lot of secrecy. There's an awful lot of malicious reporting. People report somebody else's behavior because they are down the chain and they don't like them. Uh, and that came across very clearly in our analysis. Also, uh, so we are dead against the idea of anonymity. What what we went for was the idea of openness, transparency and that transparency by default, then leads to more accountability, particularly from the top. And that's where we see the main issues. So to answer your question, What does the system look like? The system is very transparent. It's very open. We have created a very unstructured way of of of if you like. For the lack of a better term reporting, people can engage in conversations. And then, over the period of time, through the bottoms of approach, those conversations start to fall within certain topics. Again, that's very user centric. And, uh, so once conversations started to to fall within a particular topic or a particular theme, uh, you then start to see and and tie that conversation with people who would be generally interested and benefit from that conversation. So system starts to float up the most relevant information to people a bit like, you know, uh, when you go on LinkedIn you see information that that really is interesting to you because algorithms over the period of time have worked out what is more meaningful to you. So that's the kind of approach with very bottoms are very user centric. This is Jay Allen show. Hey, have you ever wanted to hear what's going on around in the world of safety and you're not able to do so? Have you ever wanted to take a listen to what exactly is going around in the world of safety? What if we call that thing around the safety pie we told you month over month what is happening in the mix when you care to know, What would it be worth to you? Now here's the fun part. Besides that, you can find out exactly what's going on inside of the world of safety. There's also other information available there stuff that you can start using as early as today. How about you give us a look? Go to our website safety FM plus dot com that safety FM plus dot com to find out what exactly is going on inside of the world of safety around the world of safety and inside of the world of safety. And don't forget to tell them that J. Allen sent you. I'll see you on the other side. Make sure to join the Revolution, and we are back on the J. Allen show on safety F. So how is the user's experience? So let's say, for instance, an organization says they're interested in this. Is this based on, like an app that they have on their phone Or is it a data database system that they have access to? How does it actually work? O. J? I wish you were on the video. I would have shared the screen You talk about, you know. Come on. This is theater of the mind. This we have to make it a little bit more difficult this way people can. Inefficient. Exactly. What? You're what you're stealing here. Yeah. So, J repeat your question. I really like the question. I want to listen to it again now. So I just want to have a better understanding of the user. The user experience. So are they receiving some kind of an app that they put on put on a device or is it a database that they have general access to or information? It's kind of segmented in that particular form. No, Jay. So this was another thing that we noticed that in most organizations there is there is this this whole idea of AP overload? People don't want another app just so sick of more and most software being imposed upon them. So what we have created is is what we call a hybrid app. So it works perfectly well on a desktop as it does on on a mobile phone, and it has all the features of an app. But it's not a native app. It's a progressive Web app, as we call it, but it functions exactly like an app, and it's. But the beauty of it is that it doesn't need any downloading. It works on any modern browser. So is this something that that works in real time? So let's say, for instance, and what? Let me explain what I mean here when I'm talking about real time. So let's say, for instance, I have X issue in regard to reporting. So we're having a community of practice where we're having the conversation. Will people be able to see the updates, uploads and downloads all in real time, no matter where they're at? So saying you based on where you're at me being based on where I'm at, will be able to see new information be populated inside of this hybrid app in real time. Oh yes, J absolutely. And there's a very good story behind it, and the story goes something like this. You know, I we were in Singapore about I was a seafarer at that time. And this is about more than two decades ago, and we had a problem with one of the winches, uh, piece of equipment at the aft deck. Um, and that piece of equipment stopped working, and we had a million dollar contract that was due to be signed in a week's time. So the electrician, uh, then, uh, went and did some checks on the equipment, and he found that the frequency converter wasn't working. So his immediate reaction was to run up to the chief in general and say, you know, we have a problem. And one of the most critical parts of machinery on board ship is not working. So what do we do? And chief engineer without thinking anything, he emailed the office and and and the and the And the first response that we received was that who is the electrician on board? And why did he leave the checks for the last minute? To which the chief and just shut off is his computer? Uh, he called all the engineers to his office, and, uh, he called all the engineers as well as people we call them wipers and oilers, who are people are very low positions on the ships. Uh, and he summoned everyone in his office and said, Look, we have a problem. Does anyone have a solution? Uh, so engineers all started to look at drawings and technical manuals, and I still remember there was this guy who was the lowest in the rank on the ship and his he said to the chief engineer. He said, no, he didn't say anything. Chief engineer actually asked him. He said, uh, So what do you think? What's your view? And that question really sparked his eyes. Is that Chief? I think we have spared in the spirit, uh, component in the forward store. Why don't we go and try that? Uh, and he took the chief in general, the forwards to respects matched and it worked. And and we, we we fix the equipment, we won the conflict. And the point I'm trying to make is this that in most organizations, you have wealth of knowledge is just dispersed in in in in time and space. And most of the problems that we encounter have been experienced by somebody else before. The challenge is how do you connect expertise with authority. By that, I mean, how do you connect somebody who has a problem with somebody who has a solution or or has the authority to approve it? And that is something that most organizations struggle with. So long story short, Uh, the the tool really is designed, uh, to work in real time. And the idea is to connect the problem with a solution. So as you would as you and your team, we're dedicating the time to actually building out this particular structure and putting all of this together. How did you know that? This is definitely where we're having such a large problem. I mean, how much time? How much data did you have already noticing that this has been an issue across the board? Um, you know what? This is a very good question. So, uh, it's It was my 15 years of struggle as a frontline worker, as a researcher, as a seafarer. As a safety inspector, I have lived and inhaled this this frustration for many, many years. But what what really surprised me was, you know, when we took a scientific study of it and we analyze some 31,000 reports and J. J. We we literally read through each and every report. And we saw how much was missing, how much engagement was missing in these reports because most of it was primarily or basically reinforcement of what the organization already knew. There was no appetite for engaging. And as soon as we started to unlock these conversations, in the words of some of the users, uh, they used to have what they call statements, observation statements, near misstatements, and from those statements it turned into people actually offering solutions. That's how dramatic the shift was. So from one line statement, it became a very rich detail of the problem, which also came with a potential solution from the people who were facing that problem. So do you think that where you were looking at these reports, then there was a huge, um, lapse in learning and learning possibilities there then? So there's a number of problems. One of the most serious problems I encountered, J. And I don't know if you would be intuitively, uh, you would intuitively recognize this or not like in most organizations, there's a tipping tipping point until which there is no there is no real appetite to invest in learning. So there has to be something high potential, something big that has to happen until you justify the resources for investigation, learning and a case for change. And we saw that time and again we saw it in many reports. And and the thing where it gets interesting is that when you talk about high potentials, which is, to my mind is a very flawed idea. Uh, my understanding of what is high potential is so different from yours, and it's different because we have We have different goals. We have different agendas. We have different objectives here. So here you have a seafarer who's reporting something as the highest level of potential, which is the Internet on the ship is not working. Of course, that is high potential, but it probably has very little to do with process safety. Nevertheless, it's in, In his view, it is a high potential thing, and this is where it starts to get messy that all the data that we have been collecting in the name of high consequence and high potential is so questionable. And that data, if that is the trigger point for change, you can see how misleading it can be for any organization? No, of course. Because it very so significantly from person to person, exactly how you just explained it. So So let me ask you a question. So outside of this, you know, it's not like you hardly do anything else. You have a lot of other things going on as well. So you have recently started a new podcast. What was the idea behind that? It is titled Embracing Differences. What was the desire and the driving point of saying, Hey, let's get this out there. And what was What was the thought processes? You decided to start this? That's J. You asked very good questions, by the way, Uh so, uh, uh, i'll tell you a story. Do, uh I live in Scotland and Aberdeen and I go out for a walk every evening, about six o'clock during winters. It gets really dark. Sometimes it's raining snow during summers. It's it's it's very bright and nice during that time of day and, uh, six o'clock in the evening when you go out during the summertime, you see people, uh, you know, they see a brown skinned person, and they generally keep away from that person. Uh, but, uh, come Winters And you are all, uh, you know, uh, closed up. You have your your your hat. You have your gloves, you have your your scarf, everything. And you people can hardly see you. And you can see how, as people passed by you, they wave at you. They say hello to you. And for a very long time, I I felt that this is all about a color of skin. And people don't like you because because you come from a different part of the world and it's all about racism. And and it's all about discrimination And what not? But then slowly, I came to realize that, like me, everyone else is scared of differences. We are all scared of differences. It's not. It's not always that people are are racist or or they are, uh, discriminating against you. We as human beings, we are scared of being different now. Being different could mean appearing differently. Being different could be mean, mean having different views, different opinions, and the natural response is to to stay away from that and what I have learned. And probably I wouldn't have learned if I if I didn't live in the West for so many years, is that there is so much potential to embrace those differences to to, um to engage with people who look differently who think different, particularly people who think differently. And that's where the real learning lies. It's very uncomfortable, but it's it's very fruitful in the long run. It's the only way to grow in life is to is by embracing those differences. So I had this idea for a very long time. Actually, I don't think that that that really, uh, sometimes annoys me Is that when we don't like somebody's theories somebody's concepts, uh, and and and, uh, they don't resonate with our world. We are very quick to judge and and and, uh, reject them. And in my world, it is so so important to engage with them. Uh, uh huh. I would say that, uh, you know, uh, engaging with those differences does not mean you have to accept them. But therein lies a real dilemma that when you engage with those differences, when you start to understand them, you start to appreciate them. You start to realize that there is more than one truth, and that is the bit that really interests me. So as much as possible, I want to bring different people from different disciplines from anthropology, social sciences, engineering, uh, every discipline, arts, humanities, and have discussions because I think deep down, other problems are very common. So do you Look at it when you're having conversations, then with people and having the going into this in depth information about embracing differences, Do you base a lot of it around science? And when you're having these, well, we'll say these discussions I don't mean that in a bad term. I mean, just having the interaction there. Is that what you're looking for? Yes, J. I am a scientist. I'm an anthropologist. And, uh, one thing that interests me is, uh, you know, an anthropology. There's a beautiful saying. It's called making the familiar strange. And how do you make the familiar strange? Because, you know, there is a road, Uh, and you walk every day and and there is a bus station and there is a There is a trash bin lying there, and if you walk that road and a car park there, if you if you walk that road 10 times or 20 times you would have lost any appetite to learn anything new because there isn't anything new on that role anymore. So you very quickly lose interest. But the way to learn on that on that journey is to invite somebody else to work with you on that road, and that person might tell you something that you haven't noticed before. So the idea is very grounded in science. It's, uh, the thing that you need to understand is that you have to be critical all the time. You have to challenge those assumptions, and that is the beauty of science. You don't have to accept them, but you have. You have to take time to understand them. Oh, I I I agree with what you're saying that because I think that sometimes Well, I can say most of the times a good chunk of us do not go down that path to have an understanding of what the other person has to say or understanding the science behind on what they're bringing to the table. Gee, I can tell you that if I did not engage with that captain of the Costa Concordia, which the world felt was an absolute idiot. We would have. We would have learned nothing from this accident. Absolutely nothing. There was so much in there by listening to a different perspective. Oh, absolutely. And now talking about accidents. And I know that we're right now recording this in March next month. You have something coming up with Todd Conklin, which is a workshop. Would you like to tell? Tell our listeners about it. Yeah. So we have this, uh, this four day session plan in April. We've done it for a few times now. It's been running very successfully. Uh, so Todd starts with his workshop for the first two days. He talks about the investigations, the theory and practice facts, investigations. And then I take, uh, I take the next two days. I take people on a journey to understand, uh, to to to give them a flavor of how much we are missing by not engaging with people in active investigations, people involved in accidents. And, uh, there is a range of things, J. And what's interesting is that it never feels like a course. Uh, it feels it is so engaging, so informative, and it's done in such a, uh, it's done in a very, uh, thinking and reflection kind of a space that you almost come out of it. Not realizing that you have completed a very intense course in human factors without actually, uh, talking about any grand theories. Well, that might be a good thing, you know, just kind of hiding it and sneaking it in there also at the same time to you don't want people to feel pressure right off the bat. That's right. I mean, there's everything from human and organizational performance to to To to safety to to, uh, to, uh h r o. And to do a bit of technical sciences, anthropology, culture. And we hardly ever talk about on human factors reliability. But we never make any of those concepts visible. Very true. Now nip. And if if the people want to know more about you and what you have going on work and they go to find out more information, I am very active on LinkedIn J as you know, uh, you can find me on LinkedIn. Uh, I am on my personal website, through which that will also lead you to my to my, uh, to my company website, which is novellas dot solutions and and the new product that we're talking maybe talked about for the most of this podcast just confided. So you'll get all the links on my personal lips. Well, nip and I really do appreciate you coming on to the show. What a wonderful experience, J. I really enjoyed it. And I love the way you ask. Questions are very inquisitive. Well, I hope you enjoyed my conversation would nip it in art as much as I did. So let me tell you about a couple of things going on here at safety FM right now. If you go to safety, f m dot com forward slash contest We have a contest going on where we're giving away a two hour one on one session with yours. Truly, we can talk about anything you want to talk about it, be at radio safety, podcasting, broadcasting whatever you want to talk about. Just go to safety FM dot com forward slash contest Also on the 31st of March at 11 a.m. Eastern time. We are doing our safety reconfigured class back by popular demand for more information. There you go into safety FM dot io as well. Bring another episode of the J. Allen show to an end. Don't worry. We'll be back with another episode very, very soon. I'll see you next time. Mhm. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are those of the host in its guests and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the company. Examples of analysis discussed within this podcast are only examples. It should not be utilized in the real world as the only solution available, as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information. Assumptions made within this analysis are not reflective of the position of the company. No part of this podcast may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means mechanical, electronic recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of the creator of the podcast Jay Allen. Safety changing safety cultures. One broadcast and one podcast at a time.