Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Professor – Effective teaching

One of the many important roles of the safety pro is teaching.  Not surprisingly, this is also an important role for a parent raising their children to be the best they can be.  On- or off-the-job teaching is not an easy duty for those of us who were not professionally trained as teachers.  However, there is a real need to effectively take on the job and family member associates from initial exposure, to knowledge, all the way through to skillful, consistent practice.  This is an important skill for all of us to master, or at least perform well.  At the front line of an organization or family, how we lead in educating our students and follow up on their development is a critical success factor in what we do and consequently in how they perform safely and correctly.  In this teaching role, each of us develops and delivers a personal style that usually needs some tune up work to be truly effective.

There is an “old saw” that goes something like: A lecture is the fastest means known for getting notes from the teacher into the notes of the students without passing through the minds of either.  To confront this unfortunate paradigm, we must take responsibility for training our front line personnel and front line leadership and family.   That training needs to impart to them the importance of being personally committed to an incident free lifestyle and to living a personal culture of correct in all they do.  In order to go beyond ineffective lecturing, there are some basic proven principles which we need to apply and demonstrate:

·         Prepare the student to receive the teaching; the what, the who, the how, the when, the why

·         Present the job (material) to be done (learned) and practiced

·         Actively involve the person to be trained in what they are expected to learn and what they are needing to develop into a personal skill

·         Follow up after the teaching to ensure they have transformed the knowledge trained into their living the important skill that they personally practice

This probably sounds like a lot of work which likely wasn’t a part of what you originally considered to be your duties as the professor / trainer.  However the “A” through “F” grade your students exhibit on the job, and in life, is also a reflection of how well you trained them to master the important aspects of what they need to perform after your training takes place.

The Doc   

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ripples – Making a lasting difference

I recently viewed a YouTube video on the consequences of how our small, personal acts of kindness can have far reaching effects on others with whom we have interacted. This message was presented as a metaphor about a person dropping a pebble into a pond and then watching the ceaseless ripples go out with unknown impact into the unknown surroundings.

This brought to mind a number of people who have dropped pebbles into my pond and how I was affected way beyond what was originally intended by the person dropping the pebble.   Early on was a boss I worked for while attending graduate school.  I was at a decision point to scrap a long planned graduation vacation with my wife or go directly into the workforce and make money.  I calculated all the financial ramifications and going to work looked very beneficial.  John, my boss at the time, then talked to me about a metaphorical high paying career of endlessly cracking eggs while sitting in a corner.  He contrasted this high paying, mind numbing job with seeking out what would deliver a lesser paying career in a field which would bring personal satisfaction and not just more money.  The vacation my wife and I took brought a personal experience and bonding that the extra money could never have delivered.  The lesson in the trade off of more money verses a more satisfying personal  life experience for the two of us and for our children has replayed (rippled) itself numerous times over the years.

Years later Dr. Dan Petersen dropped his pebbles in my pond about the importance of culture and accountabilities in developing excellent safety performance for an organization.  About the same time, other people in my life dropped pebbles in my pond related to creative problem solving, Continuous Improvement team excellence and action item matrices. These ripples combined resulted in the development of a safety culture excellence process that Caterpillar Inc. now uses worldwide which has helped to eliminate tens of thousands of injuries.

As a result of these people going out of their way to cause caring ripples in my life, I have had numerous chances to drop pebbles on how to deliver safety culture performance excellence with safety personnel and associated executives across our planet.  Not surprisingly, the desire to help other people, as influential people helped me, has allowed my many acquaintances to benefit.  In turn they have delivered on their personal desire to spread ripples of learning, way beyond just safety related issues, to many other people.   

There are numerous other people who have sent both pleasurable and painful ripples into my life.  However, the 500 word limit on a blog article forces me to get to the point of this epistle; What pebbles can you drop into the huge pond of life that will ripple out over time to improve the lives of the masses of known, unknown and unseen others?

The Doc

Monday, May 11, 2015

Home safe home – Off-the-job challenges for the safety pro

A while back National Safety Council (NSC) published data about off-the-job safety statistics being far worse than those on the job.  These 2010 statistics had nearly 90% of fatalities and 70% of medical cases occurring to industrial employees while they were away from work. 

At a recent safety consulting meeting, the focus shifted to family time and what the safety pro can do to reduce risk.  How many of us have trained our loved ones and neighbors about basics like:

·         Ladder safety 
·         Fall protection
·         Emergency preparedness
·         Fire extinguisher use
·         Yard work PPE
·         Water safety
·         Phone usage in operating vehicles

Our group took turns training each other on these basic off-the-job safety tips so that we could in turn train our family and friends.  One participant even talked about the importance of developing a “code word” for your children to use when approached by an adult who claims to be representing the absent parent.  We live in a very dynamic world, which is different from when we were raised by our parents. How can you effectively utilize your safety professionalism off the job?

The Doc

Monday, May 4, 2015

Reporting necessities – Where should safety fit into an organization structure

One of the never ending controversies in safety deals with where the safety department and resources should report.   Those of you in this blog audience have probably heard just about every option.  One of the Caterpillar organizations recently asked this question again.  My friend Andy Schneider, Global EHS Manager at Caterpillar Inc., gave this excellent answer:

“We don't have any recommended structure. Some EHS professionals report to operations, some to HR. I've always said it doesn't matter who you report to, as long as you have leadership support and participation. My own safety group has reported to corporate medical, corporate auditing, HR, Cat Production Systems, back to HR and now to Legal Services. Even with all those changes to our reporting, we have still made great progress in safety. And that's because we have had support at the top, no matter who that was.”

As safety professionals, we need the active support that enables us to improve our safety culture.  My personal experiences as a manager either in charge of safety, engineering,  operations, or all of the above have me agreeing with Andy.  If you don’t have a reporting relationship that actively supports your safety needs, how can you go about getting the kind of support that is a critical success factor for world class safety performance?

The Doc

Monday, April 27, 2015

Root bound – safety culture growth


“To be is to do.”   Socrates
“To do is to be.”    Plato

“Do-be-do-be-do”   Frank Sinatra
I have recently been reading some of the works of Dr. Paul Hiebert, who studied the types of culture we are likely to encounter as we interact with groups of people.  He commented that there were two types of cultures; “bounded set” and “centered set.”  A bounded set is more rigid and often blocks the acceptance of anything from cultures outside its own.  For this bounded group, there are things which must never be done and specific things that must always be done if a person is to fit into a bounded culture.  The centered set is much more relational and fluid, which makes it easier to enter and be accepted.

Transforming a culture is a relational process.  These two different culture sets are guided by their own set of principles and regulations.  In the centered set, cultures relational transformation is not near as tidy as a bounded set guided by a series of regulations.  In a bounded set, we are led to believe if we follow a set of rules we will be ok.

In a bounded set culture, image is everything.  But when the way things appear is all that is important, the way things really are seems to never get addressed.  The by-word for the bounded set is “behave.”  By following the rules, people think they are ok, but this is far from the truth. 

When performance fails, guilt and rebellion follow.  People try to cope with the stress and weariness of being unable to keep on the bounded set treadmill.    The solution is not more rules and regulations.  Rather, relationships and engagement of the culture (team) members allows them to work through the issues the next set of regulations just can’t solve. 

Are rules needed?  Of course, but so is flexibility.  This flexibility of a centered set culture allows our creative abilities to engage in creative problem solving for what another series of “just do this” mentality won’t solve.  When it comes to human nature realities in the workplace, or home, both culture set characteristics are needed.  What areas of your safety and work performance can be improved by going beyond a bound set of rules and regulations and creatively engaging the drive and talents of your people?

The Doc

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pebbles – Safety annoyances

We all have disappointments in life.  Often these are also distractions that take our mind and focus off the important things we need to do on and off the job.  Recently my son called me when he received the annual review after his first year with a new organization; he only got a “meets expectations” instead of the “exceeds expectations” he had hoped for, which caused his personal mindset to be in the pits. .  We had a long series of discussions over the next couple of days as I shared some similar and non similar events which had affected my outlook over the years.  In each case, these disappointing circumstances turned out to be minor setbacks and annoyances that did not make any real difference in what I was doing in the near term.  They were like pebbles in my shoe.  That is except when I allowed the pebbles in my shoe to become boulders in my path as I became mentally unglued, reacting as if they were a big deal.  On rare occasions, I made career altering decisions, which delivered some painful realities I soon regretted.  I should have taken the pebble out of my shoe and continued to focus on what was truly important, rather than letting this moment in time distraction become such a big deal. 

Every job I have ever had has come with some small aggravating details I’d rather not be bothered with.  And yet each organization has these non value added pebbles that must be lived with.  As they arrive at my moment in time, the correct thing for me to do is to stop, remove the pebble, and then get on with life.  Complaining may give me a momentary mentally satisfying emotional release, but coming unglued over these annoyances only makes it worse, not better. 

As safety pros, we all get to do some required tasks which just seem to be a big waste of time.  When in reality, they are just a little waste of time in the bigger scheme of things that we are being called to do.  So I have learned to “just get over it” rather than making short term reactive decisions that sink my long term ability to accomplish what is truly important.  Are you being bothered with some pebbles in your shoe you need to pluck and chuck and then get on with what makes a difference in the lives of those we are called to serve and save?

The Doc   

Monday, April 13, 2015

Six sigma calculations – value added safety statistics

The concept of using error rates for safety in a six sigma methodology has interest to the continuous improvement community.  Interest yes, but functionality not so much.  The six sigma approach started in the quality statistics realm as a means to measure first pass yield where sigma is the standard deviation measurement from a normal value.  In the quality world, reducing the deviation from a standard (desired) value is a measure of quality improvement of the normal or desired value. 

·         One sigma a value of 68.5% first pass perfect quality yield

·         Two sigma – 98.5%

·         Three sigma – 99.7%

·         Four sigma – 99.97%

·         Five sigma – 99.997%

·         Six sigma – 99.9997% perfect or approximately three parts per million error rate

At the beginning of the quality revolution there was a significant effort to get to three sigma performance, or three defects out of each 1000 items produced.  As more emphasis was placed on perfection, many organizations realized how difficult it was to be perfect with all the subcomponents in an assembly especially as each error has a multiplier effect on the final product quality level. 

So what about six sigma injury levels? 

·         Our North American statistics are based on 200,000 hours, or 100 years of labor (100 people each working a year).  If this is extrapolated to a million hours (500 labor years) six sigma performance would be three total lost or decreased output hours for that amount of time.  Here the focus is on what is not desired (injuries), is totally reactive and gives no input as to what can be done to reduce injuries.  This kind of six sigma safety indicator is difficult to measure or tabulate and even if it can be done consistently, still delivers no information that can improve injury performance.

·         The focus on lagging indicators gets even more difficult as an organization’s injury rate improves (lessens).  There are fewer and fewer errors (hours of injuries) to count and the concept of diminishing returns quickly suggests changing focusing to leading indicators like safety accountabilities, which help to prevent injuries.  There are literally thousands of possibilities for leading indicator activities (those associated with upstream processes that deliver downstream results).  This kind of leading activity can be measured, reinforced and tabulated in safety dashboard indicators, which actually make a positive difference in the quest to reduce injuries.  As these leading activities become ingrained in the organization’s safety culture, new safety accountabilities can be added to refresh and renew the relentless efforts needed to eliminate injuries in the workplace.  The bottom line; move away from injury rate measurements and focus on what it takes to help reduce injury rates (safety accountabilities across the organizations personnel). 

The Doc   

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