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Would Your Workplace Pass the ‘Evil-Genius Test'?

Updated: Jan 10, 2020

According to experts, Alan Hobbs and James Reason*:

"If some evil genius were given the job of creating an activity guaranteed to produce an abundance of errors, he or she would probably come up with something that involved the frequent removal and replacement of large numbers of varied components, often carried out in cramped and poorly lit spaces with less-than-adequate tools, and usually under severe time pressure.


Thus, it could be arranged that the people who wrote the manuals and procedures rarely if ever carried out the activity under real-life conditions. It could also be decreed that those who started the job need not necessarily be the ones required to finish it. A further twist might be that a number of different groups work on the same item of equipment either simultaneously or sequentially or both together. Small wonder then, that maintenance-related and engineering build activity attracts…human errors"

How well do you recognise the workplace described above? If you do recognise it, is it a place where you have worked before? Or can you recognise at least some of the difficulties mentioned in the place where you work right now?

Evil Genius Test

Thinking of your place of work, how well does your team ensure:

1. Adequate lighting and access to plant and machinery?

2. People do not feel rushed (this includes self-imposed pressure)?

3. Handovers between shifts and workers are robust?

4. Frontline workers have regular input to making and correcting procedures?

5. Simultaneous operations are controlled?

How did your workplace fare? Anything less than 5/5 positive answers shows the influence of the evil genius. Now one further action:

Ask some frontline workers how they feel about the questions above. Feel free to add your own questions. Then, if necessary, take action to defeat the evil genius!


This blog is for education. It may be freely used with attribution.

* Managing Maintenance Error – James Reason and Alan Hobbs, Published by Taylor Francis Ltd.

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