Safety Differently

(c) Erik Hollnagel, 2020

How does "Safety-II" differ from "Safety Differently"?

A frequently asked question is what difference, if any, there is between "Safety-II" and "Safety Differently". The quick answer is that there is no comparison, since the terms refer to two completely different ideas. Here is the explanation why.

"Safety-II" is about a different interpretation of what it means to be safe, namely that it refers to a condition where as much as possible goes well rather than to a condition where the number of accidents and incidents is kept as low as possible. Indeed, as explained in Safety as a homonym, it is actually not about safety at all. Being able to do things well is one aspect of how an organisation functions. Being able to do things efficiently is another. Being sustainable, producing good quality, meeting the expectations of stakeholders and customers are yet other aspects. What "Safety-II" really is about is the unification of activities that an organisation today needs to be able to function as intended and desired. It is about synesis!

In short, "Safety Differently" is about how to provide Safety-I in a more constructive and effective way, while "Safety-II" is not about safety at all but about how to develop and maintain the potentials of an organisation to function under varying conditions so that the number of intended and acceptable outcomes is as high as possible. QED