1st Edition

Synesis The Unification of Productivity, Quality, Safety and Reliability

By Erik Hollnagel Copyright 2021
    122 Pages
    by Routledge

    122 Pages
    by Routledge

    The complexity of today’s large organisations, businesses, and social institutions defeats management approaches based on monolithic thinking. Most industry and service organisations look at their performance either from a single perspective – productivity, quality, safety, etc. – or from different but separate perspectives that reside in organisational silos. Quality is treated separately from safety, which, again, is treated separately from productivity, and so on. While siloed thinking may be convenient in the short term, it fails to recognise that any specific perspective reveals only a part of what goes on. Yet it is essential to have a unified view of how an organisation functions effectively to manage changes and to ensure the organisation excels in what it does.

    Synesis represents the mutually dependent set of priorities, perspectives, and practices that an organisation needs to carry out its activities as intended. It shows how to overcome the fragmentation in foci, scope, and time that characterises the dominant change management paradigms. This book is consequently not about productivity or quality or safety or reliability but about all of these together. It is about why it is necessary to think of them as a whole. And it is about how this can be done in practice.

    1. A fragmented view

    2. Historical reasons for the fragmented view

    3. Psychological reasons for the fragmented view

    4. Fundamentals of change management

    5. Fragmented change management

    6. Synetic change management

    7. A nexus of necessary knowledge



    Erik Hollnagel is Senior Professor of Patient Safety at Jönköping University (Sweden) and Visiting Professorial Fellow at Macquarie University (Australia). He has throughout his career worked at universities, research centres, and with industries in many countries and with problems from a variety of domains and industries. Erik is an internationally recognised expert in the fields of safety and complex systems analysis and has helped create the fields of resilience engineering, resilient health care, and Safety-II. He has published widely and is the author/editor of 27 books as well as 500+ papers and book chapters.

    "Erik Hollnagel has always been ahead of the curve, and here he is again. A book about safety without the s-word—only to replace it with another s-word! Synesis not only unifies everything relevant about organizational performance, it sums up Erik's decades of remarkable, substantive contributions to our field." - Prof. Sidney W. A. Dekker. Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

    "Some people are lumpers, trying to build a world of high-level categories. Others are splitters, seeing fine-grained detail and multiple types wherever they look. Few of us can be both, but as with everything he does, Erik Hollnagel shows he can. Synesis integrates huge amounts of detail about organisational life without losing the particulars. It’s an idea destined to become widely used, like so many of his contributions." - Prof. Jeffrey Braithwaite, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


    "If we take seriously a 21st century truism that change never starts because it never stops, a book that makes change challenges more comprehensible and change processes more manageable cannot be timelier or more important. Synesis is an invaluable must read for those seeking to change organizational systems through a pragmatic blend of theory and practice." - Kathleen M. Sutcliffe Bloomberg Distinguished Professor Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA


    "This thought-provoking book challenges the long-held beliefs that problems in productivity, quality, safety and reliability of production systems can be solved in isolation, each with its own special measures. It argues that problems in production systems are due to feeble human efforts to get the system working rather than to random cause and that a less fragmented mindset therefore is required. I recommend this book for all interested in the improvement of productivity, quality, reliability and safety in practice as well as in theory." - Bo Bergman, Professor Emeritus, Quality Sciences, Chalmers, Sweden