2 comments on “Safety Language & Ducks

  1. Nice first post!

    A few thoughts…

    As you suggested, considering the audience and environment (context) can help determine when to use safety language. In addition, I think that considering the *risks* (what might happen if my message is misunderstood?) can also help determine when to use safety language.

    I’ve also started to wonder if/how the Cynefin framework might be used to help determine when to use Safety Language. In the Cynefin framework, the appropriate approach emerges and is determined by gathering and analyzing information. Gathering and analyzing information might sometimes also be an effective way to determine when to use Safety Language.

    For example, in the Cynefin model, the “Obvious” domain is where the relationship between cause and effect are well-known and widely understood. In this domain, “best practices” actually make sense. You sense-categorize-respond. Keeping this in mind, for a given situation, if you’ve gathered and analyzed information (for example, you’ve recognized that “the ten-inch high creature in front of you is waddling, quacking, and paddling”) and determined that you are in the “Obvious” domain, perhaps confidently stating that “That is a duck” might be appropriate. Alternately, if you’ve gathered and analyzed information, and determined that you are in the “Chaotic” domain (where you act-sense-respond), perhaps quickly stating “I’m not a duck” (to the hunter pointing a gun at you) is also appropriate.

    Finally, thanks for introducing me to the Elephant Test!

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  2. Thanks for your comment!

    I think you’re right with the Cynefin Framework (a new one to me), especially with respect to the “Obvious” domain and there being little need for safety language. After reading up on it, I found Dave Snowden’s definition of that domain is that the relationship is “self evident to any reasonable person”. I really like that concise description and it ties in with the point I tried to make about not expecting to need to defend some assertions.

    It’s possible that safety language can be bypassed too in the “Complicated” domain – the suggestion of bringing in an expert to make the right decision/conclusion is an interesting one.

    (For anyone interested, you can hear Dave Snowden talking about – and pronouncing – that framework here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7oz366X0-8.)

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