The Origins of the 7A's process
I started this whole process back in Jan 2015 -I attended a great Professional standards workshop and within the 1st 20 mins the term heuristic traps was being used and to be totally honest - I had no idea what it meant, I’d never heard of it before. What was worse is I couldn’t even spell it so attempts to subtly google it under the table failed - in the end I put my hand up and asked the question — “sorry if I’m stupid - but whats a heuristic? and how can it trap you?
Having been made aware of such things was a bit of a wake up call - I’d always considered myself as someone who was very tight when it came to safety and playing the risk benefit game. However, all of a sudden i realised that there was a whole area of factors that could influence hazards and increase risk that I hadn’t known about so obviously hadn’t considered before. Well thats not totally true as when I revised my operating procedures and Risk assessments I noticed that i had included some areas but not all. What followed has been nearly two years of personal research, study and application which you can imagine resulted in a lot of information!
Whilst trying better understand all this information, give some structure to it all and ensure that it could effectively be applied I created the 7A’s process and in doing so I realised that this could be of real benefit to the industry.
Six or so months after the Professional Standards workshop I was asked to deliver a ‘Best Practice” workshop at a large climbing wall were the staff were “not backing up ropes or supervising the group well enough” so could I go in and show them again?
I knew the wall and staff well and this workshop was going to attended by staff that were all experienced - I was very confident that they knew exactly what to do and knew that they should be doing it… So what would happen if I went in and showed people what they already know? I doubted very much that anything I showed them would be welcomed or taken in. For me the issue here isn't’ that they didn’t know or had forgotten (these situations would’ve benefitted from a skills reminder) but the issue lay elsewhere.
So what I ended up delivering was a workshop that looked at the reasons behind why we sometimes don’t do what we can and know we should. The aim for that workshop (and the Monkeys Sometimes Fall Out Of Trees workshops) was to facilitate a perspective shift - to provide a reminder of the ‘bigger picture’ and of how we can improve our 'response - ability'.