Today I’m joined by Anton Zytnik, a health and safety professional with a globe-trotting resume, who brings his personal and professional interest about bias to practical use in his work, as well as sharing it with you. Cognitive bias is our focus for today.
This episode is brought to you by the Safety Professional Practice Differently Masterclasses, launching in June 2018. The entire premise of our work at Safety on Tap us helping leaders grow and drastically improve health and safety along the way. You’ll remember previous guest and friend of the show Dave Provan who’s passionate interest and the focus of his PhD is understanding the past, present and future role of health and safety professionals. So it made perfect sense for Dave and I to put our heads to together to help you create a more effective future for yourself, and your team. The Safety Professional Practice Differently Masterclasses are a one day learning event which will take you on that journey – an engaging combination of information, social and experiential learning leading you to take action, tailored for your specific situation and your context. This is a learning experience like you have never seen before, and will thrust you into your better future. We’re kicking off with a few Masterclasses across Australia, but also looking for locations if you want to host a public masterclass – all the details including a video chat of Dave and I talking through what’s involved, are at safetyontap.com/differently
Today’s guest Anton Zytnik will be speaking at the 2018 Safetyscape convention, part of the new events offering from the Safety Institute of Australia on from the 22nd to 24th of May in Melbourne. The inaugural #SAFETYSCAPE Convention will enable an array of organisations to assemble as the largest gathering of Health & Safety Industry professionals across a program of events, workshops, forums and the Safety Institute of Australia’s own two day National Health & Safety Conference: In Practice along with the Workplace Health & Safety Show. But don’t forget, as I’ve been saying for a while – most of your learning and in turn performance will come from social and experiential learning – so whilst the knowledge you will gain will be great, it’s even better to meet new peers and strengthen relationships with your network, share stories and reflections from your own experience. I’ll be there, I’m speaking about non-safety practices to improve your effectiveness, as well as alongside a group of YSPers sharing our professional journeys. But I’m keen to sneak away and have some great conversations with new people, like you.
Visit safetyscape.com.au to find out more and get your ticket, I hope to see you there.
That was a really enjoyable chat, I loved that Anton and I were able to flow through some basics about bias, and share examples from our own experiences and from other people and resources. This is a beautiful example of the combination of informational, social, and experiential learning flowing together. The question is will you turn what you’ve heard, into action to improve your performance?
On that note, here’s my three takeaways from that chat with Anton Zytnik:
Takeaway #1: If you have a brain, bias will affect you. Bias is just a specific kind of mental shortcut that helps our brains conserve energy associated with thinking. There are plenty of reasons why that’s a good thing. Anton mentioned Dan Kahneman’s book thinking fast and slow, which is a great starting point if you want to learn more about what’s happening in our brain and the way slow, conscious thought differs from fast, automatic thinking. If you have a brain and the people in your business, understanding bias isn’t just something you should know about, it’s smart to know about.
Takeaway #2: Bias isn’t all bad. Anton and I scratched the surface on a number of examples of specific biases, and how they might lead to errors or things going wrong, but they work just as well to make things go right. The best bit is that understanding and intentionally designing to incorporate bias management is clever and sneaky – it doesn’t add ‘another thing to do’, it usually doesn’t take a bunch of time or resources, it just needs you to have a good understanding and good design intent to improve performance. That applies to designing workplaces, work processes, risk controls, training and learning, communications, measurement and reward systems – just about anything you do, you can sneak imperceptible bias management techniques into.
Takeaway #3: Reflecting on your own practice and how bias affects you, will help you improve how you manage bias in the things I mentioned in takeaway #2. Becoming more conscious of the unconscious requires energy, but you will benefit from it. I did this consciously for the first time in a review I undertook for a client, centred around a serious incident. I reflected on the role of my bias in doing the review, I was aware of bias as it may have affected input from others, I designed my review to reduce the effects of bias, and explained all of this in my report. It’s not perfect, but being reflective is the necessary start for you to better manage bias. If you want a copy of the general use reflection framework used by me and members of Safety on Tap Connected, you can grab it down below.
Here’s the resources I suggested you check out:
– the Safety on Tap Connected Reflective Practice framework template
– the cognitive bias codex and a great primer blog
– The books SWITCH and Made to Stick by Chip and Dan heath
– Choiceology is the podcast I mentioned by Dan Heath/Charles Schwab
Plus this episodes reflection and transcript below.
Until next time, what’s the one thing you’ll do to take positive, effective or rewarding action, to grow yourself, and drastically improve health and safety along the way. Seeya!