Featured image depicting Catastrophe and systematic change: Learning from the Grenfell Tower and other disasters

Catastrophe and systematic change: Learning from the Grenfell Tower and other disasters

New book by JMJ Master Consultant, Gill Kernick, attempts to understand why, despite enormous efforts, we persistently fail to learn from catastrophic events

By JMJ  |  May 27, 2021

Austin, Texas, May 27, 2021 — JMJ Associates, a global consulting firm specializing in transforming people, performance and culture, is proud to announce the publication of a new book by its Master Consultant, Gill Kernick. The book, Catastrophe and Systematic Change: Learning from the Grenfell Tower and Other Disasters, explores the myths, key challenges and conditions that inhibit our ability to learn from tragedies, and identifies opportunities to positively disrupt the status quo.

In her endorsement of the book, Vicky Pryce, former Joint Head of the Government Economic Service, said, “Reading this powerful story of the Grenfell Tower fire and the testimonies to the still ongoing public inquiry, it becomes difficult to avoid the conclusion that the disaster was mostly the result of a multitude of market and regulatory failures. Gill Kernick shows that lessons had not been – and are still not being – learned.”

The Grenfell Tower disaster was the worst residential fire in London since World War II. It killed seventy-two people in the richest borough of one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Gill Kernick lived in the tower between 2011 and 2014 and watched the building burn on the 14th of June 2017. Driven by this personal connection, combined with her 10 years’ experience with JMJ Associates as a safety culture and leadership consultant in high-hazard industries, Kernick has become a leading campaigner to change how safety is considered within the housing development and construction sector, and ensure lessons are learned.

“In my professional life I have been close to terrible tragedies, but at Grenfell people died in their homes; that is unforgivable,” Kernick said. “Moreover, many of the same issues that led to Grenfell are playing out in the global pandemic. High-hazard industries have a lot of insights into how to prevent low probability, high consequence events. I wrote the book to offer some different perspectives as I don’t believe we are tackling the messy cultural and leadership challenges that will lead to meaningful change”

About the book

Like other catastrophic events before it and since, the Grenfell tragedy has the power to bring about lasting change. But will it? The historical evidence is weighed against lessons being learned in a meaningful or enduring way. In an attempt to understand why, despite enormous efforts, we persistently fail to learn from catastrophic events, Kernick uses the details of the Grenfell fire as a case study to consider two questions

  • Why don’t we learn?
  • What would it take to enable real systemic change?

The book offers an accessible model for systemic change, not as a definitive solution but rather as a framework to evoke reflection, enquiry and proper debate.

Jeff Williams, CEO at JMJ Associates said, “Four years on from Grenfell, Gill Kernick’s book reveals the uncomfortable truth about the multitude of systemic failures which led to this predictable and preventable tragedy. This thought-provoking and important book is essential reading for anyone interested in change management, leadership, policymaking, law, housing, construction and public safety.”

Catastrophe and Systematic Change: Learning from the Grenfell Tower and Other Disasters, can be purchased via major bookstores, or directly from the London Publishing Company. More details can be found on Gill Kernick’s website. To speak to Gill Kernick, or arrange an interview, contact her via her website, or email Gill Kernick

About the Author

Gill Kernick is passionate about developing leadership capability and culture and believes that the voice and tacit knowledge of the front line are strategic cornerstones for the prevention of accident

For the last ten years, she has worked with JMJ Associates, delivering bespoke change programs for large complex organizations, and as a strategic partner with C-suite clients.

In 2020, Kernick was publicly voted one of the top 25 most influential people in Health and Safety in the UK. She has been a guest on numerous podcasts, including BBC’s ‘Beyond Today’, participates in panels and working groups, including for the IET, the Institute for Government and Justice. She frequently publishes papers and co-hosted a multi-disciplinary event on ‘Policy Lessons from Catastrophic Events’ with Cambridge University’s Bennet Institute of Public Policy. She also hosts a blog ‘“The Grenfell Enquirer”, to encourage authentic debate and learning. Gill lives in London, England with her husband, Keith.

About JMJ

For over three decades, JMJ has been delivering impactful cultural change to help executives, leaders and front-line workers transform safety, sustainability, and business performance. We combine the deep experience of our people with our proprietary Transformation Cloud platform to deliver breakthrough results, making the impossible possible. www.jmj.com

About JMJ

For over three decades, JMJ has been delivering impactful cultural change to help executives, leaders and front-line workers transform safety, sustainability, and business performance. We combine the deep experience of our people with our proprietary Transformation Cloud platform to deliver breakthrough results, making the impossible possible. www.jmj.com

For Further Information Contact:

Stephanie Kimball
JMJ Corporate
1 512-485-5062
[email protected]