#TheGouge: What is Reason's Swiss Cheese Model? with Gareth Lock

Gareth explains Reason’s Swiss Cheese Model in a way that doesn’t once make us think about food.

Hello everyone, welcome to #TheGouge with Ponch and Cujo. I’m Ponch, I’m here today with Gareth Lock, and we’re going to talk about Swiss Cheese. Gareth, what is Reason’s Swiss Cheese Model?

So, Reason’s Swiss Cheese Model is talking about barriers that we have to try and create a safe environment. But those barriers are imperfect. They’ve got holes in them. And those holes, it’s not a static model, it’s often drawn as a fixed diagram with layers that go through, but it’s not a static model. Those layers, those barriers, those defenses, they’ve got holes, and they open and they close, and they move around. And when the shaft of light goes right through everything, that’s when you end up with the accident.

Now, the modern world is complex. That’s a linear outline. The real world is complex and it doesn’t work like that. So, another way of thinking about it is, let’s think of an object that’s receptive to energy. A certain amount of energy lands on this object, and it goes bang. So, we, in fact, instead of having one Swiss Cheese model, we’ve got lots of them all around here, all around in this big sphere. And we have light and energy shining through. And sometimes you might have big holes, that allow lots of energy to come together. Dotted with lots of little bits. Or, we can have loads of tiny little holes and it’s that straw that breaks the camel’s back.

So, while the Swiss Cheese Model has certainly got limitations, because it’s linear in nature, you can also look at it to deal with complexity if you take a much bigger view of the world.

So, Swiss Cheese allows you to identify, in a pretty simple way, the holes in the barriers that we want that create failures that we don’t want.

Awesome. And that’s the gouge on Swiss Cheese. Thank you, Gareth.


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