Wednesday, 2 April 2014

How dare you, my Lord, how dare you! Hillsborough and humbug

When I run lessons capture meetings for clients, my opening remarks usually include this phrase, “If we are to learn from what happened, we need to know…what...happened.  Not what you’d like to pretend happened, so as to put yourself in the best light and perhaps gain that bonus or that promotion.  Not what you’d like to claim happened so as avoid criticism, or minimise embarrassment, or even the sack. But simply this – what happened.  Failing to be honest here means that our understanding of the past will be based on false premises, which means the recommendations we make may well be the wrong ones.  So please, be brave, be bold and tell it how it is.”
What a shame it is that Lord Justice Goldring (the coroner presiding over the current inquest being held to examine the causes of death of the 96 fans of Liverpool Football Club who died at Hillsborough in 1989) had not said something similar to the jurors yesterday, as he set out how the inquest will be conducted.

As reported on the BBC website, where he could have indicated independence of thought and a desire for the truth, instead he has limited, severely, the terms of reference and scope of inquiry.  This is because he asked the jury to consider the "conduct of the fans, or some of them, excluding those who died".

He went on to say, "I phrase it in that way because I don't believe anyone will suggest that the conduct of those who died in any way contributed to their deaths."

Perhaps he is motivated by a desire to assuage the fears of the families of those that died and, given the outrageous efforts to conceal the truth by some policemen (through the 'editing' of statements), the desire to seek some form of balance is understandable.

Understandable but completely wrong.

What will happen if DNA evidence is found to link the injuries suffered by one victim to the fists, fingernails or teeth of another?  What if such evidence is combined with extremely high blood-alcohol readings? Are the jury not to assign any degree of responsibility on the victims, even in  those circumstances?

I know some people, perhaps many, will disagree with me on this but I raise these concerns to alert other to the dangers of deliberate attempts to conceal or limit the truth.  No matter what the motivation, however ‘understandable’, efforts to deflect examination must at the very least be revealed for what they are and should be resisted by all of us that care about learning from experience.

If we are to learn from what happened we need to know…what…happened. 

1 comment:

  1. LesScott

    It is true that most organisation are do not identify lessons, and those that identify lessons they assume that they have learnt out of them. Thank you for the example that you provided. I am personally happy with it and it clears up the 10 steps.

    May I contribute by firstly saying we need to categorize and or have domains for lesson learnt in an organisation. Those domains should be, society, organisation, Business Unit and individual. All these domains are linked, have relationship and influences each other. I need not to explain that there an organisation is formed by a group of individual, a group of individuals in one unit we call then a Business unit, a group of business units form an organisation that exist in a particularly society with different value and culture e.g Unilever in Africa is different from Unilever in USA.
    These levels of domain influence each other from external to internal or vise versa we have society (external),organisation, business units and individuals (internal).

    Then, the biggest question is, lessons identification belongs into which domain ?, the second questions which is the best possible method/technique to capture lessons learn ? Please help me think through these questions.

    I came across MSC (most significant change) technique which I was compelled to compare it with your ten steps and your suggested techniques to capture lesson learn. My findings is that the AAR, CoP and Best Practice are good but limit people experiences to the objective of the method. For example AAR can only be conducted after something has happened e.g. project. Further if not classified to a domain, it it difficult to see the what changed. The same can be put forth for CoP and Best Practice.

    MSC ten steps are
    • Encourages wide participation in the evaluation process;
    • Stories can be shared easily opening up new possibilities for wider communication;
    • Control of stories that help strengthen the participants;
    • Can serve as a means to uncover unexpected significant changes;
    • Clearly outline organisational values that are halting practical discussions to identify most important values for significant change;
    • Monitoring is conducted in a participatory method;
    • Enables easy communication across cultures;
    • Encourages analysis as well as data collection because people have to explain why they believe one change is more important than another;
    • It builds analysis capacity, data and conceptualising impact to empower staff;
    • The overall organisational picture of the social and economic environment can be sighted on what’s happening; and
    • Monitoring and evaluation can be extended to initiatives that were never anticipated to have outcomes to evaluate against.

    Following what you said "I know some people, perhaps many, will disagree with me on this but I raise these concerns to alert other to the dangers of deliberate attempts to conceal or limit the truth."

    I therefore think and wanna accentuate that Cop, AAR and best Practice conceal the truth, it becomes even worse when we are unclear from which domain level we wanna deal with lessons learnt.

    Sannie Zwane