Tag: decision making

 

I wrote this story many years ago, back when .PDF readers were still very confusing to use and cell phone systems were analog. It deals with what, today, I call "hyperventilation control," a timely subject, I would say.

 

I hope our clients, colleagues, associates, friends, and family will enjoy it as a heartfelt Martin & Ottaway holiday present.

 

Happy Holidays and a Prosperous 2018 to All!

 

 

There once was a King who tried very hard to be just and fair. But, because he tried to be just and fair, he was often asked to judge.

 

This King originally held public court on Monday mornings, but once his subjects discovered that their King would try to be just and fair when he held court, more and more subjects appealed to him to resolve their grievances and disputes.

 

Soon he was holding court deep into Friday afternoon. He already had to stop playing golf with his advisors and ministers on Thursdays, and he realized that in a few more weeks he would not be able to play with his kids over the weekend.

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Ignorance is very pervasive and fighting ignorant behavior can be very exhausting. Jonathan Swift is believed to have said that you cannot reason someone out of something they were not first reasoned into. If that statement is true, and it certainly contains a lot of truth as far as I can see, it means that opinions and judgments need to be based on reasoning before they are made.

 

It also should not be forgotten that reasoning should be based on correct data. I have previously mentioned Hans Rosling as an example of clear thinking based on good data and mentioned his excellent TED lectures. (After this blog, if I have the energy, I plan to discuss a TED lecture by Boyan Slat that is nothing short of incredibly awful)

 

Hans Rosling passed away in 2017 but his interesting and amusing TED lectures live on and he deals with devastating ignorance in   “How not to be ignorant”. Hans and his son Ola provide some very direct guidance as to how one can make more accurate judgments on world events and developments even with limited data. The lecture is a delight, but, after looking at world trends, the lecture concludes with four very simple guidelines that almost automatically allow any person to make much more accurate world judgments without access to data on the subject.

 

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Note: I posed a question at the bottom of the original blog and in August 2016 added two book to the bottom of the list in response.

 

Books are fun, but very occasionally I have encountered books that have actually changed my understanding of humanity and the world.

 

Only a very small number of books actually unlocked pieces in my life’s puzzle, and helped me decode complex problems a little quicker and indentify false truths.

 

This is the short list of those books. (In parentheses I added the approximate date I read them and how I found out about them):

 

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On March 1, 2014 the USS Somerset (LPD-25) will be commissioned in Philadelphia. The Somerset is the third and final San Antonio Class vessel named after 9/11 locations.

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Accident analysis is a strange and complex task. Often blame is considered to be the motivator for an accident analysis, but the most interesting and useful purpose of an accident analysis is to tease the universally useful gems out of the huge pile of information that tends to get generated during an accident analysis.

I recently read the accident report on the January 2013 grounding of the USS Guardian, a US Navy minesweeper that ran aground and was ultimately lost on a reef that was mislocated on an ECDIS  type chart.

 

The report makes interesting reading, mostly because it is a US Navy version of the work Martin & Ottaway engages in on an almost daily basis. It is interesting to compare the Navy approach to the civilian approach and learn from it. read more »

 

A while ago Wayne Thomas forwarded the “Costa Concordia Report on the Safety Technical Investigation” to everybody in the office and only just now did I have a chance to read it.

 

While the report is not dated or specifically identified as “final” it appears this is an English language version of the last word by the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transports on the Costa Concordia and closely resembles an NTSB final report in its technical thoroughness.

There have been various press and web discussions regarding the recommendations in the report, but a few less obvious paragraphs struck me as particularly interesting with regard to emergency human factors issues as have been discussed in the women and children first and OODA Loop blogs and in some of our papers such as the QESTH paper.

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A disaster like the Costa Concordia opens a wide variety of investigations and undoubtedly many people are very busy in analyzing what caused the vessel to strike the reef and to capsize, but striking reefs and capsizing actually is nothing new and, on a technical level, actually is pretty well understood.

 

What is much more interesting is to place oneself in the Master’s mind immediately after the Costa Concordia struck the rock. From a technical point of view, this is the interesting part of a disaster, and where proper analysis and training can make a real difference.

 

Undoubtedly, it is necessary to avoid disasters. But since disasters will always happen, an even more important goal is to figure out what to do once you are in the middle of the disaster.

 

What really is a disaster? A disaster is an undesirable condition, but maybe it is better to define a disaster as a condition where the manager can no longer figure out what to do to get control of the condition.

 

This is an important consideration, because this definition shows that one person’s disaster is not necessarily another person’s disaster.

Which brings us to John Boyd. John Boys is one of the most amazing characters of the second half of the 20th century that nobody has heard off. Here I will only discuss one aspect of his accomplishments. John Boyd was an amazing fighter pilot, but instead of riding the mystique of the right stuff, John Boyd managed to figure out what the right stuff is and developed a fighter pilot training method to teach the right stuff. He called it the OODA loop.

 

It stands for Observe, Orientate, Decide and Act, and then do it all over again right away.

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Corporate longevity might imply tradition, but actually, and especially in the maritime industry, longevity is directly related to staying on the cutting edge and being involved in the next big thing.

 

On March 5 and 6, 2013 Martin & Ottaway will be a minor sponsor of the Marine Log 2013 Offshore Alternatives Conference at the Washington DC Marriott. 

 

Will tidal power be viable? Will offshore wind be a big energy contributor? Quite frankly we do not know, but answers only appear when the questions are studied and debated. We look forward to studying the cutting edge and hope to see you there. 

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Our first blog on "Women and Children First" elicited a fair amount of comment on various discussion sites. 

 

A major part of the discussion centered on the Birkenhead disaster. The Birkenhead disaster is considered to be the first application, or even the invention, of the "Women and Children First" concept.

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Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson of Uppsala University recently performed an interesting analysis of survival rates in a large number of major ship disasters ranging over a period of over 150 years. They were interested in determining whether the old adage "Woman and Children First" actually occurred in such disasters.

 

While many of their conclusions are statistically very dubious, their data indicates that women and children survival rates actually are substantially lower than men and crew in major shipping disasters.

 

The most significant exception is the Titanic where a much higher percentage of women and children did survive. This study was a statistical analysis, and while the numbers do support their findings, each disaster is unique and there may have been factors that would have resulted in lower women and children survival rates even if there was an intent to allow the women and children to enter the life boat first. Some of these disasters may have been so confusing that the order was never heard, others may have developed too quickly for any type of abandonment order to have taken place. And when panic develops, "Woman and Children First" (or any other type of group objective) is simply abandoned in the quest for individual survival.

 

However, quite possibly, Messrs. Elinder and Erixson's analysis just sheds light read more »