Monday, June 7, 2010

1000 Loaves of Bread

While working in the Middle East I was asked one of the many “world hunger” types of questions that come not all that infrequently in the safety world.

“We have large projects and many sites. These projects require the hiring of thousands of temporary employees from areas of the world that have no safety culture whatsoever. Injury probability for this kind of work is very high, but there is so much need and so much pressure to complete the projects on time and on budget, what do we do?”
The question brought to mind another day when my papa once told me his thoughts on a somewhat similar matter: “Son, is it better to give out a 1000 loaves of bread, or teach five people how to farm?” A simple question, a simple answer and yet not a simple application.

As we discussed the issue in the Middle East we headed toward doing both;
  • Picking a few sites that were open to “learning to farm” and giving them the majority of the available resources
  • Doing some risk assessment at the “loaves of bread” sites and thus trying to limit the possibilities of serious injuries here to the best of the limited resources.
This forced me into a retrospective mode as I contemplated past years when I either taught farming or just handed out loaves. The first priority was to teach my children how to farm, and that has been an on going pleasure (and challenge) even after they got married and moved away. Then there have been the few business situations that presented on-going relationships with people who really wanted to do the long term work necessary to end the “hunger problems” they faced on a day-to-day basis. To this about 10% of the population, I have dedicated much time and effort. In turn I have enjoyed experiencing them become both self sufficient and also a passer on of the “farming” techniques.

The 90% or so who just wanted a quick fix generally got the quick answer and, as they were unwilling to spend the time and dedication to learn how to farm, I sadly watched them hustle off to the other more pressing tasks common to the world of the expedient. All the time I sadly knew full well that their organization’s starvation efforts would never really end.

Have you developed any “farmers” in the safety world; in other worlds? How many? Who is the next “farmer” you plan to develop? I have found another one in the group I worked with in the Middle East and am looking forward to the long term engagement that really makes a difference in a world of safety excellence.

The Doc

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Connect With Us

Bookmark and Share
/////////////Google analytics tracking script//////////////// /////////////END -- Google analytics tracking script////////////////