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Our Community & Collaboration

"When Thou is spoken, the speaker has no thing for his object. For where there is a thing there is another thing. Every It is bounded by others; It exists only through being bounded by others. But when the Thou is spoken, there is no thing. Thou has no bounds." Buber (1958, p.20)

These are the words of Martin Buber from his book I and Thou. I learned about Buber through Graham Long and his book Love Over Hate

Buber's work is deep, and I am only beginning my attempt to understand and learn from it. I would do it a great disservice in trying to summarise it with my limited knowledge and understanding, however I have taken great meaning from I and Thou already, as I begin to understand the importance of Buber's words of wisdom  and they help me better understand the different relationships we form in life.
If you are not that into reading, and would prefer to listen to some of Buber's story, you can download a  Podcast by clicking on the ABC's The Philosopher's Zone website.

If you would like to hear Graham talk about Buber and explain I and Thou in a better way than I ever could, you can watch a video here

At Dolphyn we understand the impact that our social arrangements and relationships have on how we go about our daily life, and that relationships and community are an essential part of what it means to be human. We know that humans are social beings and that, as Graham Long puts things, the minimum unit of people is two. That is, we long to belong. Being part of a community is something that we all desire, and need. 

A Dolphyn, we value the special relationships we have with our close friends and celebrate the communities that we feel privileged to be a part of. In this edition of Dolphyn's Newsletter, you will find contributions from good friends Gab, James, Dave and Max who we are proud to collaborate and be associated with.

We hope you enjoy the read, and we thank you for being part of our community. 

'Zero Tolerance' Destroys Community 

How can 'Zero Tolerance' be Consistent with 'Community'?

In a recent study on the 'zero tolerance' approach to schooling in the USA, it was identified that 33% of students in one area, and 60% of students in another, were suspended due to the absolutist approach taking to discipline at these schools. Read on to hear from Dolphyn's Rob Sams on how this relates to risk and safety, and how any approach that has perfectionism as it central theme is dangerous. 

Instead of an approach that requires perfection, schools are now moving toward 'Progressive Learning', an approach which is outlined in this book (Love Learning), which describes "these educators and schools invigorate learning and promote inquisitiveness by allowing the curriculum to grow organically out of children's questions—whether they lead to studying the senses, working on a farm, or re-creating a desert ecosystem in the classroom."

While I'm not an education expert, in fact I'm a student myself, this seems like a much more effective approach to educating than fear and punishment. Of course this approach has application in risk and safety too. Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in the number of organisations move toward a 'zero harm' approach in risk and safety. While I have heard some people argue this is an ideal aspirational goal, and that of course the target should be to hurt no-one, the discourse of 'zero' is the same in 'zero harm' as it is in 'zero tolerance' in schooling, that is fear and punishment are seen to be key motivators. 

'Zero' (in anything) is a about perfection, it is an absolute number and it drives behaviours that are dehumanising. When punishment and fear are the key motivators, this leads to under reporting, to fear of making mistakes and ultimately a culture that doesn't value learning, as you can't learn when mistakes can't be made. 

If your organisation would like to understand the damage that 'zero' can do, this article, and the reference book may help understand an alternative approach which is more 'people centred' and focused on understanding people rather than motivating through fear. 

Collaborating - Safety Leadership Training

Review of PROACT Safety Leadership Program

In mid February 2015, Dolphyn Associate's Max Geyer and Rob Sams met with a great team of people from an organisation in regional NSW. Over three days, we shared, discovered and learned with their Board, senior management team and frontline team. You can read Max's account of 3 great days of learning by clicking on the link below:

A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to work with Rob Sams from Dolphyn as he ran the Human Dymensions PROACT program with a client in regional NSW.  To see the change in outlook of the participants, as they were exposed to a new way of understanding leadership in safety and risk, was not only rewarding but it was also fun.
The participants, (frontline leaders and senior managers) seemed to be re-energised when asked to look differently at safety in their workplace.  Their learning adventure started with Rob confirming that managing safety and dealing with risk was grounded in having suitable systems in place; BUT that there was more.  And that is where the PROACT Program differs from “normal safety leadership” training.  It aims to have people look further than just the physical work environment to manage safety.
The interactive nature of the Program soon had the participants grasping the idea that identifying, understanding and living with risk was as much about understanding people and how they see and understand and interact with the work environment, as it was about systems.
Through a mixture of classroom and in-the-workplace based activities, the Program draws the participants into considering and questioning not only the workplace and physical hazards, but then to go on to also consider how the various individuals think and interact with the workplace and further still to consider the way that work teams intersect and interact with each other and the environment.
This broader thinking and questioning was put to the test during an experiential component of the course, when the participants got the chance to practice their new found questioning skills with each other.  The obvious change in the way the group delved deeper to understand risk was gratifying to observe.
The very many positive comments given by the participants and obvious fun they had at the same time was testament to Rob’s facilitation techniques and the strength of the PROACT Program.
For more information on the PROACT Safety Leadership training program contact Rob Sams on 0424 037 112 or e-mail and I am happy to take calls on 0419 143 457 or you can e-mail me at max@viamaxconsulting.comViamax Consulting are proud of their association with Dolphyn.

Author:  Max Geyer
Director – Viamax Consulting Pty Ltd

Community - Humanising the Workplace

The Resilyence Philosophy

Dolphyn Associate Gab Carlton from Resilyence (spelling mistake deliberate, open the link to learn 'Y') is proud of her philosophy of 'humanising the workplace'. Gab understands that in order to cope and survive in todays world, organisations and people need to build resilyence. This includes learning, adapting, knowing, relating, conversing, engaging, being mindful and more importantly understanding people better.

Karl Weick sums it all up so eloquently in his book Managing the Unexpected“Nowhere in this book will you find any mention of perfection, zero errors, flawless performance, or infallible humans. That’s because “human fallibility is like gravity, weather, and terrain, just another foreseeable hazard”’ (Weick (2007) p.68)

Resilyence is understanding that no system is perfect, that learning from errors is important and recognising errors will occur. It’s how you are able to move forward and learn despite the error(s), allowing the system to keep functioning. That is because the system is not the focus it’s the people that are the focus. If we focus on people we understand that people will manage the unexpected far better than a system will.

A system is rigid and static and cannot adapt and if we solely rely on that system we will fall apart. If we understand that people are the key to adapting the system to move on then the organisation has the capacity to be more resilient.

Weick alludes to the key being about knowledge, “…these pathways to resilience demand deep knowledge of the technology, the system, one’s coworkers, and most of all, oneself.” (Weick (2007) p.14)

Gab has been busy recently rolling our her Resilyence programs to a range of organisations including a large regional council in NSW. If you'd like to know more about Gab's resilyence programs and her take on humanising the workplace, you can give her a call on 0407 220 094

Creating a Resilyent Workforce 

Over the past few months, Dolphyn Associate James Ellis and his team at Framework Group have been presenting on the topic “Creating a Resilient Workforce” at various HR and Workplace Wellness Conferences across NSW.
The presentations have been highlighting increased evidence of the role of sleep, physical activity and sedentary lifestyle in the development and maintenance of mental resilience.  The key messages focus on personal strategies to sit less, move more, recognise stress and sleep better with the impact for the organisation being improved employee performance, energy and resilience.

In line with these presentations, the Framework Group team have also been involved in the roll out of employee wellness programmes to almost 16,000 people in areas as diverse as universities, law firms, public sector organisations and mines during 2014. 

Results are showing improvements in ability to cope with workload and stress, increases in energy and activity, and better quality of sleep.  The exciting feedback from these programmes was they provided a unique opportunity to start a conversation – about life!!   Across all organisational levels, people begin to talk, laugh and realise that the stressors they face are universal. They report that they talk to friends, family and colleagues about what they have learnt. This makes these interventions more than a wellbeing initiative – it’s a cultural engagement tool. If you'd like to learn more about Framework Group and their programs, contact  James Ellis on 0417 221 016.

Community - New Cohort of Students

Social Psychology of Risk

In March 2015, a new Cohort of students commenced their learning 'adventure' by commencing the post-graduate program in Social Psychology of Risk run through ACU in Canberra. 

Dolphyn's great mate, and legend, Dave Collins was amongst the new students and he shares some of his thoughts and experiences from week one of his post-graduate studies in his latest Blog. says he has commenced on a "cracker of a ride!"

We wish all the new students well in their learning adventure, and if there is ever a time you'd like to talk through your studies, just give us a shout. 

Collaborating - Psychology of Risk Conference

Last Chance to Register - it's on this week! (25 & 26 March)
The Inaugural  Psychology of Risk Conference is on next week (25 & 26 March) in Sydney! It's a refreshing approach to understanding people and risk. For an all inclusive $675 (includes conference, dinner, breakfast and all meals), it represents a great value learning experience. Clink on the link below to register. All of Dolphyn's associates and many from our great community will be attending. 
You register by clicking HERE

Collaborating - Book Review by Max Geyer

Risk Savvy - Gerd Gigerenzer
So, “Intuition”; that’s just a female thing; right? – wrong.
Diligent research will always deliver a better decision than relying on a gut feel; right? – wrong
You would think that if a baseball player ran as fast as they could straight to be in the area that a high ball was going to land, that the player would have greater success at catching the ball than running at a slower pace with their eyes on the ball; right? – wrong.
You would think that a group of American students would be better than a group of German students at picking that Detroit has a larger population than Wilwaukee; right? – again you would be wrong.

How can a bunch of Turkish people, living in Turkey, who do not avidly follow the English Football Association (FA Cup) competition be as successful, at picking the winners of 32 games in a round of an FA Cup season, as a similar bunch of English people who do follow soccer?
You would expect that doctors in an emergency department would be expert at separating people who need to be admitted to a specialised intensive care cardiac unit (with limited beds), as opposed to a more readily available/ accessible (and less expensive to run) observation unit; BUT they are not.  Why is this the case?
These questions and others related to how we make decisions (including the best way to pick a stereo) are explored by Gerd Gigerenzer in his excellent book Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious.  Gigerenzer says that ‘... intuition is the steering wheel through life’ (p. 16).
Gigerenzer’s easy writing style leads us through the complex realms of unconscious decision making and helps us to make sense of what many of us will commonly refer to as our “gut feeling” or our “intuition”; the power of which by the way, although used slightly differently by the sexes, is apparently shared evenly by both men and women (pp. 69-73).
Gigerenzer opens the discussion of how our gut feeling, or as he terms it our ‘Unconscious Intelligence’ (pp. 16-19) can be developed and used to assist when making complex decisions, particularly when time is of the essence.  For example he talks about developing intuitive decisions into a science by replacing complex statistical systems with ‘fast and frugal rules of thumb’ to assist in the training of medical students.
Want some more? – Ok:
  • Being forgetful can help you make better decisions;
  • Having a moderate knowledge of a subject can give you an advantage over an expert;
  • One good reason (to do something) can be better than many; and
  • ‘When you buy a stereo, choose the brand you recognize and the second-least expensive model’ (p. 112).
I have no hesitation in suggesting you take an adventure through ‘Gut Feelings’ however, Gigerenzer does warn us that ‘... some of the insights we’ll find on our trip conflict with the dogma of rational decision making.’ (p. 19)
Gigerenzer, G., (2008)  Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious, Penguin Books, London, England.

Collaborating - Sharing our Learning

A Selection of Our Most Popular Blogs
As is tradition with our Newsletters, we share a selection of our most popular Blogs over the past few months. Here is a selection of our favourites from the past few months. Click on the heading to take you to the link. 
In this piece, James Ellis explores the 'power' that can exist within various relationships in the workers compensation system. Read the story here:
There is no Way I Would do That!
Rob Sams explores the power of social arrangements and the influence that they can have on our behaviour. Rob shared his experiences, challenges and learning with the latest of Cohort of Students who commenced their 'adventure' into Social Psychology and Risk in March 2015. 

Focus on 'Meeting' People, Not Legislation 
Rob Sams asks the question, "If your focus is solely on 'meeting' legislation, what does this mean for 'meeting' people?"

Hind-sight, Risk Savvy and the Unexpected
Max Geyer asks, "people often talk about the “benefit of hind-sight”; but does hind-sight prepare us to manage the unexpected? Hind-sight – it is a good thing right? It helps us make sense of the world right? It sometimes gives us the courage to continue right?"

Community - Can You Give 8 for a Mate?

Support Lifeline Newcastle, Hunter and Central Coast

In supporting our local community, Lifeline relies on community support in return. More than 75% of the Lifeline team volunteer their services, and they rely on our community for more than 80% of their funding.

Lifeline's new "8 for a Mate!"  means that you can now make monthly contributions for as little as $8 to Lifeline. 

You can donate by clicking on the link below.

Staying in Touch

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Thanks for being part of our Community. 
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