People Learn What They Freely Seek

In the early 2000s, Dr. Sugata Mitra headed research and development at NIIT, a leading computer software and training company in New Delhi, India. Just outside his office was a wall that separated his air-conditioned 21st-century office from a slum. Mitra wondered what would happen if he installed an internet connected computer interface in the wall, and watch who, if anyone, might use it. To his delight, curious children were immediately attracted to the strange new machine. “They asked me, ‘Can we touch it?'” Mitra recalls, “I said, ‘If it’s on your side of the wall, you can touch it.’ So, they touched it.”

Within minutes, children figured out how to point and click. By the end of the day, they were browsing.

When Dr. Mitra later asked one of the children, Rajinder, to define the Internet, he replies immediately, “That with which you can do anything.” His initial curiosity had been rewarded.

Curiosity is such a basic component of our natures that we are nearly oblivious to. Consider, though, how much of our time we spend seeking and consuming information, whether listening to the news or music, browsing the internet, reading books or magazines, watching TV, movies, and sports, or otherwise engaging in activities not directly related to eating, reproduction, and basic survival. Our insatiable demand for information drives a much of the global economy and, on a micro-scale, motivates learning and drives patterns of foraging in animals. Heck, some rudimentary forms of it can be observed even in the humble worm C. elegans.

But, as with Rajinder, to be sustained our curiosity needs to be rewarded. Many factors drive people to learn. On the one hand, learners are motivated by external rewards, such as financial incentives, improved job opportunities or approval from a manager. However, learning also needs to be personally rewarding to feel worthwhile. Regardless of the external rewards like accreditation or incentives, it must be Interesting, Challenging and Enjoyable.

How can we break the ice by making Process Safety Training ICE? The more High Hazard Process Industry workers are excited by Process Safety stories, the more engaged they will probably be about applying its tenets.

At Process Safety Matters, we have been striving to make process safety matter to front line workers for more than a decade by:

Showing HAZOP teams how they can save future lives like Tom Cruise and his squad in Minority Report by:

  • Getting the team together
  • Looking for clues
  • Identifying Credible Causes
  • Predicting Ultimate Consequences
  • Providing Sufficient Safeguards

Improving virtual HAZOPs courtesy of Tripp & Tyler

  • Arrive on Time
  • Check Your Login Details are valid
  • Unmute before preparing to engage…
  • …try not to talk over each other…
  • …the mute to cut out background noise
  • Try to avoid distractions
  • …and contribute

Using of TP polling software

Gamifying Process Safety – demonstrating how to address the impact of groupthink….with a few pieces of string

Breaking the ICE – with a ticklestick

Highlighting the 3 human error categories in ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’

How to manage difficult team members

As Rajinder would say ‘Have fun out there – and never stop being curious!’