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The Learning Adventure Continues
Learning to Embrace Ambiguity

"Organisations, despite their apparent preoccupation with facts, numbers, objectivity, concreteness and accountability, are in fact saturated with subjectivity, abstraction, guesses, making do, invention and arbitrariness, just like the rest of us"

Karl E. Weick (1969, p.5)

One of the things that stands out in our study of social psychology as it applies to dealing with risk, is that while people crave certainty, clarity and clear process, the world is full of grey, of 'messiness' and ambiguity. When leaders and organisations learn about, and can get their head around this, we can begin to understand that despite the best planning, the best processes (both of which are needed) and no matter the amount of regulation, things will not always go to plan.

We know that risk is about uncertainty. We also know that 'the unexpected' will always occur. Perhaps then, it is those organisations who focus on learning, who are adaptable and who seek to understand people that will work towards what Karl Wick refers to as a High Reliability Organisation.

In this edition of Dolplyn's Newsletter, we share stories, research, learning and look at different ways to explore and understand risk. We hope you enjoy sharing in our learning adventure.


Learning with our Peers

Inaugural Psychology of Risk Conference

The Inaugural Psychology of Risk Conference was held in Sydney on 25 & 26 March 2015 and was a great success. People from New Zealand, Hong Kong and Australia came together at ACU in North Sydney to hear how the social psychology of risk can be applied at work. The diverse field of presenters included practitioners from: Telstra, Raytheon, Lend Lease, QSL, Jemena, Framework, Rio Tinto, SummitCARE, Theiss, Omya Australia, General Mills, Nestle and Electranet.

Dolphyn’s Rob Sams, along with friends Gab Carlton, James Ellis and Max Geyer all presented papers as well as facilitated our ‘Conversation Corner’ (see below for more details).

Details of Rob’s presentation, ‘What is excess regulation doing to us all?‘ are  also included below.

You can read more about the conference by clicking on the image below.

Learning with Others

Introducing Conversation Corner - A New Way to Explore and Learn?

Conversation Corner is a collaboration with our friends Gab Carlton from Resilyence and James Ellis from Framework Group.  Together we work as a 'community of practice' sharing, learning and creating.

Conversation Corner brings together the unique blend of semiotics, listening, learning, life and critically, conversation, to an understanding of the tackling risk at work. This is an approach that leads to sharing ideas, experiences and information in ways that cannot be achieved through traditional meeting arrangements. Conversation Corner was one of the interactive and experiential activities run at the Psychology of Risk Conference.

The foundation methodology for the Conversation Corner is known as ‘World Café’ but the Conversation Corner model is much more than this. It is infused with understandings and adaptations from the social psychology of risk to create something entirely new.

Conversation Corner is a tool and unique methodology to draw out and share, listen and facilitate, map and ‘prime’, reflection and maturity in responding to risk. The use of graphic design, social psychology, dialogue, language and listening to create the Conversation Corner offers businesses and organisations a new way to explore critical thinking and strategy in risk.

Learn more about Dolphyn's Communication, Conversation and Culture programs by clicking on the image below. 

The photo above is the piece of art that was developed by or graphic artist who took the ideas, experiences and stories from all groups and put it into one piece

What Does Conversation Corner Look Like?

Sharing ideas, stories and experiences with others is at the heart of the Conversation Corner
Our Conversation Corner facilitators are all educated in social psychology and understand the importance of conversation, semiotics and creativity in problem solving.
Sharing ideas and expressing learning through drawing can be a wonderfully creative experience. And for those who don't possess Picasso like talents for art, we have a graphic artist on hand to support you.
Learning by drawing, through conversation and being creative, all essential ingredients in Conversation Corner
We finish Conversation Corner with one piece of work that sums up the session with ideas taken from all groups. Here Max Geyer and our graphic artists 'tell the story' of how 'Risk Makes Sense'.
Learning About Regulation

What is Excess Regulation Doing to us All?

If regulation is your tool of choice, you will probably believe that when existing regulation doesn’t work, that you just need morebetter or greater vigilance in regulation to achieve your desired level of ‘control’. If this is the case for you, some relevant questions to ask may be: what does excess in regulation do to us? Or perhaps, when is regulation excessive? Or, what effect might excess in regulation have on motivation, perception and how we treat, relate or exchange with others? These critical questions are tackled in this paper.

Click on the image below to read the rest of the paper. 


Learning by Sharing

As is tradition with our Newsletters and in the interest of learning, we share a selection of our most popular Blogs. Here is a selection of our favourites from the past month.
We Need to Make Sure This Can Never Happen Again
Reviewing events, injuries and what some call 'incidents' is a day to day event for most in risk and safety. I'm wondering if you've ever gotten caught up in the process of incident investigation? Do you recognise and take the time to consider your own biases when reviewing events? 

Read the rest of the story by clicking on the image below.

The Dangers of Being an Expert

It can feel good to win and argument or be perceived as the most intelligent person in the room. It’s a great boost for our ego and I think typically as human beings that we like being the one who knows the most, or to excel where others don’t.

However, when we know more than others, or we have an overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness at being right, or if our desire is to always be the smartest person in the room this can impact on how we relate to others and can change relationships.

Read the rest of the story by clicking on the image below.

Risk Homeostasis
Post by Dave Collins on

One of our good friends Dave Collins started that Blog, the site where we publish our Blogs. Dave is part of the latest cohort who commenced the Psychology of Risk post graduate program with ACU. One of the assessment tasks is Unit One is to present a poster on a topic of your choice. In this video below, Dave shares his presentation on the central principles of Risk Homeostasis.

Read the rest of the story and watch Dave's video by clicking on the image below.

The Foundations of Safety
Post by Dr Robert Long from Human Dymensions.

One of the introductory subjects for beginning teachers is the ‘Foundations of Education’, this is a study of the nature of people, learning development and maturation. When I observe beginner training in safety the ‘foundations of safety’ seem to be: regulations, systems and policing. Of course, these are not the foundations of safety, the foundations of safety are hope, compassion and empathy. The care for the well-being of others is the foundation of safety. Unfortunately, the technicists that dominate the safety sector seem to believe safety is founded on a study of objects.

Read the rest of the story by clicking on the image below.


Learning from Researchers

Society of Australasian Social Psychologist (SASP) Conference
Dolphin's Rob, Max, Gab and James had the privilege of attending the Society of Australasian Social Psychologist (SASP) Annual Conference held in  Newcastle, NSW in March 2015. We also presented a poster on 'Social Psychology Applied to the Discernment of Risk'.

The SASP Conference brought together more than 170 delegates who were keen to learn, share and explore together. You can learn more about SASP here, and if you’re interested in joining, it costs $50 per year.

As students, we have a passion for learning (while at the same time unlearning!) and to be amongst such academic minds was both amazing and, to begin with, a tad intimidating. However, we soon felt relaxed, at ease and ready to learn. It was no surprise that social psychologists made it their business to make people feel welcome.

When we open our minds to listening, learning and understanding from those who have chosen a life of research, of challenging and of a quest for exploring, I believe we can ourselves, learn so much.

You can read about Rob's reflection on the Conference by clicking on the image below.


Community - Do you know a 'Brass Bloke'?

About The Brass Blokes Award

The Lifeline Hunter Central Coast Brass Blokes Award recognises the amazing spirit of 'blokes' within our region. We want you to recognise and nominate those who have been through adversity yet still find the time, courage and inspiration to give back to their community. 

This years Award night is being held on Friday 17 July at the Newcastle Panthers Club. 

Dolphyn will be hosting a table at the Award night, if you are interested in attending, drop us a line at 

Confirmed guests for this years award include:
  • Kurt Fearnley - Newcastle based disabled wheelchair athlete and champion bloke, see -
  • Nick Newling - mental health advocate who has an amazing story. Nick's mum Jayne was our inspiring guest speaker at this year’s Steel Magnolia Award in Newcastle, see -
  • Mark Hughes - former Newcastle Knight, Kurri boy and top bloke who has been through a battle with brain cancer, see -;
As well as celebrate these men, the event will raise awareness of men's mental health and raise funds for Lifeline Hunter Central Coast. 

Nominations for the 2015 award will open late May. For more information contact Emma Askew, (02) 4940 2007

Click on the image below to lean more about the Brass Blokes Award


Staying in Touch

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