A critical and timely muse!

1.5.4 ECDIS [Electronic Chart Display and Information System] training
All of Ovit’s deck officers had attended […] Attendees at the […] training courses were a mix of senior and junior officers with varying degrees of experience at sea and with ECDIS. Ovit’s master was uncomfortable completing the course with junior officers. In particular, he found it embarrassing to ask questions. (p15)

3.3 Other safety issues not directly contributing to the accident
It took the OOW [Officer of the Watch] 19 minutes to realise that Ovit was aground and a further 14 minutes to report the accident to Dover Coastguard. The OOW’s vagueness when subsequently answering the coastguard’s questions was unhelpful and potentially could have delayed assistance. (p51)

While reading the report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) into the grounding on the Varne Bank by the OVIT the potential for ergonomic and human factor failures to occur in circumstances that are readily recognised and could have been since before the term ergonomics was concatenated into existence.
In the Ovit grounding it was, again, the integration of new equipment into an existing workplace and working cultures that was critical. However, while this is a problematic, common occurrence it serves as a timely reminder. For in the next week or two vast numbers of product/industrial design students will be starting (or recommencing1 ) their studies but few will consider how their proposal for the latest “must have” fits with the “as is”. How does the amazing uncreated new fit within the ordinary but existing environment for, only very rarely, is everything changed at once!
The hard issues such as physical space and any need to connect with power and data communication systems are obvious but is the fit with people considered? The soft context can be critical; the cultural environment, expectations and experience that people bring to the task of using the new device, service or system must be considered. But how should designers understand and consider the people that will use the new, merged, workplace? How can the integration of the new with the existing be managed? Can behaviour be changed to minimise the risk of significant failure, shortcomings or just inefficiencies in the new whole? Who might be responsible for ensuring that the necessary changes occur before they are needed?
Indeed, how should Design Schools facilitate the creation of the designers that will, subsequently, join the existing professional creative workforce and then go on to significantly and beneficially influence the innovation of a desirable future world that benefits all? Just a thought…

Welcome back, tatty picking week will be here next month!  Mic

1.   An aside!  I am often struck how seasonal education remains when compared to the needs of agriculture.  Agriculture which once set the school timetable, has adopted all manner of clever growing conditions plus rapid global transport has smoothed the cyclic growing natural seasons.  Education is only just starting on such timeshifting.

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