Afterword: Ergonomics and Human Factors Research and Practice: Lessons Learned from Professor John R. Wilson

by Sarah Sharples (@scsharples)

(Abridged version)

I was lucky enough to be taught and mentored by, and become a colleague of, an inspirational ergonomist, Professor John Wilson. John’s work, writings, thoughts, and occasional rants informed the thinking of the editors of this text, as well as many of the authors, and it is an honour to contribute some messages that John felt passionately should be communicated to those who research and practice in human factors and ergonomics (HF/E):

  • Combine Research and Practice
  • Take a systems approach
  • Publish, write and talk
  • Think beyond the laboratory
  • Be constructively critical and have a critical friend
  • Nurture talent and collaborate with others

Sadly, John died in July 2013. Since his death almost two years ago, many people have contacted and spoken to me and my colleagues at the University of Nottingham and in the HF/E community more widely, and given many examples of how John’s work inspired and informed their research and practice.

John was one of a kind. Not many internationally leading academics can mix his approachability, intellect, humility, humour and use of idiosyncratic British phrases and get away with it! He would be enormously impressed by this edited text, and the efforts that the editors have gone to, to think so carefully about the issues associated with HF/E research and practice that were so close to John’s heart. The advice to: take a systems approach; publish, write and talk; think beyond the laboratory; be constructively critical; and nurture talent and collaborate; are lessons that I’ve taken from my time working with John, but I’m sure there are many other lessons that John’s other collaborators and colleagues would have taken, and which add to John’s rich legacy.

It is very sad that John is no longer with us to share this text, and join in with its debate, but he would be very proud of this book, and I’m sure would encourage all of its readers to think carefully about how its messages can be used to enhance their own HF/E research and practice. Thanks John.

Professor Sarah Sharples

President of Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (2015-2016)

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About drclairewilliams

I am a senior consultant at Human Applications and Visiting Research Fellow in Human Factors and Behaviour Change at the University of Derby. Most of my work just now deals with leadership and culture in the health and safety realm; trying to support organisations to take a systems approach to understanding behaviour. I blog in a personal capacity. Views expressed here are mine and not those of any affiliated organisation, unless stated otherwise. You can find me on twitter at @claire_dr
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