Tag Archives: engagement

People are the solution

peoplearethesolutionI once ran some focus groups on a mine site. The goal was to identify conditions that made work difficult. One of the issues that the workforce identified was that “Work is difficult when you drive at night and you can’t see signage, rocks, and other traffic”. After having presented this and other findings to the project employees during a prestart meeting, one of the truckies came up to me and said: “Let me know if you … Continue Reading ››

A Day In The Life Of

Sneakers on a Pier3Recently I was at a chemical plant doing an assessment of the management system and “culture” of the site. The corporate safety group was alarmed by a spike in injuries at the plant over the last year and wanted an outside opinion as to what was wrong that was leading to all these injuries. This mindset is common. After all, failure must be caused by bad inputs – i.e. all these injuries mean that … Continue Reading ››

Moths to a Flame

DSCF4945In a land far, far away a very long time ago someone had an idea and tried to do something different with safety.

For my sins I started my career in safety working for the UK government. To be fair this was back in the 70s and 80s when the 1974 Robens inspired Act was starting to be felt and the proposed legislation on major hazard sites would see the end of the prescriptive nature … Continue Reading ››

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of the right to speak up

8985496669_8dd78af2ca_kSix months before the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated over Florida in 1986, engineer Roger Boisjoly wrote a portentous memo. In it, he warned that if the weather was too cold, O-rings in the solid rocket boosters could fail. It was the job of these O-rings to seal the joints between the segments of the SRB’s—two huge, towering silos of rockets made by contractor Thiokol in Utah, that helped lift the Shuttle into space. The memo was, in … Continue Reading ››

The Default Future

DCF 1.0I read this great book called ‘The Three Laws of Performance’ written by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan. In this book I was introduced to the concept of the Default Future. During my career I noticed that safety professionals (and this included myself) have a familiar box of tricks. We complete risk assessments, enshrine what we learn into a procedure or SOP, train on it, set rules and consequences, ‘consult’ via toolboxes or committees and then observe … Continue Reading ››

BIG on ideas

IMG_2024 A few years ago a truck driver asked me “when are you going to do something about the delivery docks, the reversing lines are so faded it’s hard to position our trucks?” Like all good managers I nodded caringly, made sure I had a suitably interested look on my face and told him I would talk to his manager and get it sorted. During my career I have had this conversation and probably the same look on my … Continue Reading ››

Recovery from Command-and-Control: A Twelve-Step Program

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost of us in democratic countries would hate to see the rise authoritarianism. When we hear about authoritarian regimes around the world, we feel lucky not to live there. We know that people do not thrive under authoritarianism, where high levels of control suppress the human connectivity, freedom and creativity that give meaning and purpose to life. The same is true of organisations, but here we seem to have to put up with it. In 2012, the UK’s Chartered Management Institute released a report … Continue Reading ››

Stop start cards

IMG_2658A mechanic once burnt his hand so badly he had to seek hospital care. While at the hospital, two managers from his workplace showed up. They wanted to find out if he had completed a ‘start card’. Fortunately, he had filled one out so all was good. As he retold me the event, it was clear that their request had upset him. The managers had been interested in the paperwork, and not the state of his hand. Or … Continue Reading ››

Causalism, and the will to power

file000601579788The discussion was about pre-start meetings. A couple of workers had spoken up about the meetings as ineffective and confusing: After the pre-starts people could spend considerable time trying to figure out what they were supposed to do, and where, that particular day. What could be done to improve the effectiveness of these gatherings? As I listened to a group of 5-6 employees, I learned about the limited time available, the quantity of information to be transmitted to … Continue Reading ››

Safety journeys: Are we there yet?

file0001207248003There is a lot of talk about safety journeys these days. During a recent conference workshop, attendees were asked to mark where their organisations were along a ‘safety culture maturity scale’. Equipped with this ‘knowledge’ from asking ‘where are we now?’ and ‘where do we want to be?’ people could allegedly analyse the gap. But also, many managers and decision-makers make frequent use of ‘safety journey’ in explaining current and future developments. The journey is of course … Continue Reading ››