Criticism of the shipping industry's way of looking at Complacency
By Complacency, I understand :- a state of comfort which is a positive side of human growth and by various schools of thought such as Buddhism, and a general understanding of psychology, it is desirous of every person to reach the stage of Complacency. Complacency is another term for maturity.
Thus, Complacency is a human nature and every person is expected to arrive into it.
Complacency should not be seen as a chronic, negative human nature. Indeed, from the human resource management point of view, no aspect of human nature -such as Getting Tired, Monotony, Drudgery, or Complacency should be seen as a negative behavior - although all of these surely put some limitations on human performance.
The task of HR Manager in an organisation is to overcome the challenges posed by Complacency (for that matter Boredom, Wearability, Monotony) BUT NOT TO beat the Complacency out from Human Nature by issuing threats, warnings of consequences, alarming the individual of his natual limitations and of his very being.
Therefore, to diagnose the core of an accident by the Investigators, as Complacency may not be fairly justified act, more so if the corrective action becomes limited to persecuting, or to lecturing ONCE MORE the perceived errant operator of the limitations he has "suffered" from. It should become clear to the one and all that all limitations occuring from Human nature are not some chorinc incompetence one private individual has suffered from, because if not him, the other fellow human will be showing these human limitations in the next occasion leading to a repeat of accident due to same cause.
The objective of HR Management should be to introduce procedures which may *eliminate the challenges* created by Complacency, not the Complacency itself. (It is natural that such a burden on the HR Management will give opportunity to the employees to accuse the HR of doing insufficient, thus hiding away their actual incompetences. But this aspect of tussle between employees and employer is a different topic to study.)
As an example, in car driving exercise - the limitations of a complacent driver (regular, accustomed and mature) is overcome by introduction of procedures such as: No music while driving, no phone calls,
Compliance with Traffic Signal,
Design and Construction of such roads on which smooth traffic may run with Complacent drivers on the wheels of each vehicle,
Pedestrian Overbridges, zebra crossing, flyover, traffic partition, road lamps, rumbles, spead breakers, well marked signboard, etc.
What are some inappropriate methods of overcoming complacency:
1) To force the driver of a car to keep the back of seat upright all the time (fallacy--"comfortable seating induces complacency")
2) To force the driver to stop talking, smiling, singing or listening to music (fallacy--"relaxation introduces Complacency")
3) To prohibit carriage of mobiles while driving. A mere control on taking the phone call should serve, not prohibition. Similarly, prohibition of mobiles in Wheelhouses or Cockpits is going over the side.(fallacy- "luxuries introduce complacency")
4) To prohibit setting alarms which contribute to safe working, on grounds of fear that people play truant from work leaving their work on the alarm alone(fallacy-"Electronic Gadgetry introduces complacency").
5) Over emphasis procedure of record-keeping to the discomfort of ship's crew. ( fallacy--"Released from reporting control, uncontrolled crew is complacent")
6) Senior, aged not being attentive, or agreeing to younger or junior staff is NOT necessarily Complacency. It is often a hierarchical arrogance very commonly occurring from socio-cultural learnt behaviours. Many cultures see a Senior asking, enquiring or taking advice from a Junior as "lacking confidence". Complacency is confused away for what is more often a culturally learnt arrongant behavior.
On ship, we overcome the Challenges of Complacency by putting in practice the operation methods and the checklists prescribed in the ISM-SMS manuals of the ship.
Therefore the accident investigators and the auditors should focus harder on ensuring the ground compliance of the ISM-SMS procedure, which should suffice to eliminate the challenges of Complacency. And new observations diagnosed to have occured out of Human Nature limitations would require procedural amends in the ISM-SMS which will ensure a fleet-wide and a longtime cure.
In short, COMPLAISANT Behaviour should be ths cause of concern, not COMPLACENT.
If at all the Complacency shows up, the preventive measures should show-up in the SMS manual procedures, INSTEAD of confining the Complacency cause to accusations and blame-fixing on the errant ship master.
I respect Complacency as an Organizational challenge, not as a chronic individual limitation. Complacency is a human nature and often it is desirous that all normal, healthy humans reach a stage of complacency after due experience gain.
Shipping Industry should take constraints in portraying complacency as a negative virtue of human beings.