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We need to talk about engineering work

We need to talk about engineering work

In high-hazard sectors such as aviation and healthcare, when it comes to human performance, most efforts to understand work are dedicated to operational front-line roles.

Few people – other than engineers and engineering managers – seem to talk to engineers about the nature of their work. What is working well in their day-to-day work? What problem situations do they face? What challenges and dilemmas do these present? How do they respond to these? What do they need to make work more effective?Like their operational counterparts, engineers tend to be associated with ‘getting stuff done’. But how they do it is given little attention.

In this talk, Steven Shorrock outlines challenges for engineers in the drive for digitalisation, based on the feedback of engineers from around Europe. The challenges have implications not just for engineers, but for the managers and other staff who interact with engineers, whether in operational, recruitment, training, safety, quality, or other roles. And to address these challenges, we need to understand work-as-done, not just work-as-imagined.

StevenShorrock

October 05, 2022
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  1. Supporting European Aviation We need to talk about engineering work

    Dr Steven Shorrock EUROCONTROL Network Manager Safety Senior Expert Safety & Human Factors
  2. Photo: NATS - UK air traffic control CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

  3. Photo: Naviair (All rights reserved)

  4. • Provide some accessible and applicable ideas about work •

    Help to inspire curiosity and learning about work Hopes for this Session
  5. What is it about your work that others (outside of

    your profession) might find surprising, but that might be interesting or relevant to them? Or… What might you be reluctant to tell them?
  6. LOSS OF FLIGHT DATA Image: © EUROCONTROL

  7. Adapted from EUROCONTROL (2013). From Safety-I to Safety-II. A White

    Paper Accidents & incidents: obvious internally and externally, investigated in depth Normal, routine, day-to-day performance: not well understood, generally ignored Exceptional performance: obvious internally, hard to see externally, gratefully accepted 7
  8. Adapted from EUROCONTROL (2013). From Safety-I to Safety-II. A White

    Paper <0.0001% Commercial Aviation Accidents & incidents: obvious internally and externally, investigated in depth Normal, routine, day-to-day performance: not well understood, generally ignored Exceptional performance: obvious internally, hard to see externally, gratefully accepted 8
  9. Adapted from EUROCONTROL (2013). From Safety-I to Safety-II. A White

    Paper Accidents & incidents: obvious internally and externally, investigated in depth Normal, routine, day-to-day performance: not well understood, generally ignored Exceptional performance: obvious internally, hard to see externally, gratefully accepted 9
  10. Adapted from EUROCONTROL (2013). From Safety-I to Safety-II. A White

    Paper Accidents & incidents: obvious internally and externally, investigated in depth Normal, routine, day-to-day performance: not well understood, generally ignored Exceptional performance: obvious internally, hard to see externally, gratefully accepted 10
  11. Adapted from EUROCONTROL (2013). From Safety-I to Safety-II. A White

    Paper Accidents & incidents: obvious internally and externally, investigated in depth Normal, routine, day-to-day performance: not well understood, generally ignored Exceptional performance: obvious internally, hard to see externally, gratefully accepted What & who keeps the system safe most of the time?
  12. Adapted from EUROCONTROL (2013). From Safety-I to Safety-II. A White

    Paper Accidents & incidents: obvious internally and externally, investigated in depth Normal, routine, day-to-day performance: not well understood, generally ignored Exceptional performance: obvious internally, hard to see externally, gratefully accepted 12
  13. HUM-SYS Systems Thinking 13

  14. The Traditional Engineering Role Highly regulated Specialised training and certification

    Technological specialization Legacy technology, evolves slowly Relatively little interconnectivity Waterfall method Management systems User-designer gap Conservative Mostly in-house More defined and limited coordination demands Low staff turnover Low cultural diversity Relatively few surprises
  15. What’s New? New changes and projects New staff New clients

    New languages New processes and methods New communication systems New ticketing systems New reporting systems New competencies New test requirements & methods New single points of connectivity New interdependencies New mental models New time pressures New technical debt New surprises
  16. Supporting European Aviation Challenges for Engineering Work

  17. 1. Dealing with change and production pressure • Number, scale,

    and speed of changes, sometimes simultaneous • Concerns about 1) the nature of the equipment 2) the work and resilience • Trade-off between innovation and maintenance requirements
  18. 2. Coping with complexity • More goals - safety, quality,

    security, reliability, availability • More diversity, interconnectivity and interdependency • Less bounded, understandable, predictable and tractable
  19. 3. Keeping up with planning and coordination • Many stakeholders

    with different demands, knowledge, understanding, tools, terminology, and languages • Place-keeping and continuity • Understanding who is doing what, when, why, where, how, with whom and for whom
  20. 4. Maintaining expertise • Legacy, emerging and collaborating technologies, in

    context of whole system architecture • Different philosophies and practices and mental models for different systems • Single points of expertise and contractor reliance
  21. 5. Learning from experience • Low failure rate – narrow

    base of experience • Learning from experience us ‘unplanned work’ • Many unresolved questions What has worked well, that we should continue or extend? How well do our procedures and processes work? How do we handle surprises? What dilemmas to we face?
  22. 22

  23. enter your presentation title 23

  24. Supporting European Aviation The Realities of (all) Human Work

  25. 1. Real work is rarely as we imagine it to

    be • Imagination of others’ work is always inaccurate and incomplete • Work-as-imagined becomes part of the work environment • Closing the gap requires constant dialogue between interfaces Work-as-Imagined Work-as-Done What is it about your work that others would find surprising (and that might be relevant to their work)?
  26. 2. People have unique strengths, but also limitations • Humans

    have abilities that no other part of any system has • Every individual has unique contributions to bring to work • People also have limitations (and even Olympic athletes perform below their average half of the time!)
  27. 3. Work is influenced by multiple interacting contexts • All

    outcomes are influenced by the multiple contexts of work • Some are available to the senses, but others are not • When something goes wrong, much of the context isn’t available for ‘replay’
  28. 4. People make trade-offs, compromises and adjustments to get the

    work done • They are necessary for systems to work • They occur at all levels…and interact and combine in unexpected ways • They require expertise and communication
  29. 29

  30. 5. People do things that make sense to them at

    the time, given the context • Our intentions and decision making are ‘rational’ given our situation • With hindsight and knowledge of outcomes, decisions can seem ‘irrational’ • Try to understand why a decision or plan made sense to the person at the time Goals Expectations Capabilities Focus Information Options
  31. enter your presentation title 31 THE LIGHTING CIRCUIT Photo: LRD615

    CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/2kNCax
  32. 32 THE LIGHTING CIRCUIT Photo: LRD615 CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/2kNCax

    personal social & cultural political societal legal & regulatory economic temporal physical & environ- mental procedural organis- ational technol- ogical inform- ational
  33. Supporting European Aviation Understanding the Realities of Engineering Work

  34. Why learn from everyday engineering work? 1. Learning from everyday

    work helps to improve all aspects of performance and wellbeing 2. Learning from everyday work does not require unwanted events 3. Learning from everyday work helps to see and build on what’s strong 4. Learning from everyday work helps to see slow changes 5. Learning from everyday work can involve everyone
  35. 1. Be curious about others’ work • People are the

    experts in their own work • We often have most to learn from those we interact with least • Find out what is working well, and what makes’ work more difficult than it needs to be
  36. 2. Keep in mind what kind of work you’re thinking

    about • Work-as-done is the real thing…and can never be fully understood • All other kinds of work are proxies for the real thing • But combining ‘proxies’ can help to approach an understanding of work- as-done https://bit.ly/PFWAD3
  37. 3. Assume goodwill and make it easy for people to

    say what’s on their minds Work-as-Done Work-as-Disclosed https://bit.ly/PFWAD3 • Talking about everyday work means disclosing the messy reality • Fear of consequences drives almost all non-disclosure • Create relationships and an environment where people feel safe to be open and honest
  38. 4. Get multiple perspectives • Different people have different insights

    into work • Different people see different problems, different solutions, and different influences on these • Combine proxies to get to these Work-as-Done Work-as- Observed Work-as- Disclosed Work-as- Disclosed Work-as- Disclosed Work-as- Observed Work-as- Observed
  39. 5. Consider the multiple influences on performance • All performance

    has multiple influences • Influences on performance can be internal and external, local and distant, acute and latent, visible and invisible • You can’t change the human condition but you can change the conditions of human work
  40. Work-as-Done Work-as- Analysed Work-as- Measured Work-as- Judged Work-as- Observed Work-as-

    Simulated Work-as- Prescribed Work-as- Imagined Work-as- Disclosed Work-as- Instructed personal social & cultural political societal legal & regulatory economic temporal physical & environ- mental procedural organis- ational technol- ogical inform- ational Image: Steven Shorrock CC BY-NC 4.0
  41. Work-as-Imagined Work-as-Done humanisticsystems.com Work-as-Prescribed The Messy Reality Describe about a

    situation where work-as-done is not as-prescribed http://bit.ly/TAOHW1 Image: Steven Shorrock CC BY-NC 4.0
  42. Work-as-Imagined Work-as-Prescribed Work-as-Disclosed Work-as-Done http://bit.ly/TVOHW Image: Steven Shorrock CC BY-NC

    4.0
  43. Work-as- Done Work-as- Imagined Image: Steven Shorrock CC BY-NC 4.0

    Work-as- Disclosed Work-as- Measured
  44. Work-as- Judged Work-as- Prescribed Work-as- Imagined Work-as- Disclosed Work-as- Done

    Image: Steven Shorrock CC BY-NC 4.0
  45. personal social & cultural political societal legal & regulatory economic

    Work-as- Done Work-as- Measured Work-as- Imagined temporal physical & environ- mental procedural organisational & institutional Technological Informational Image: Steven Shorrock CC BY-NC 4.0
  46. Why learn from everyday engineering work? 1. Human Factors and

    Ergonomics 2. Work Psychology (industrial, work and organisational) 3. Safety Science 4. Quality Management 5. Organisational Ethnography 6. Resilience Engineering 7. Systems Thinking 8. Complexity Science 9. Counselling Skills Exploring the theory and method
  47. None
  48. None
  49. www.bit.ly/HindSightMagazine

  50. Image: Steven Shorrock CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/2bkA8HS