Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ending Doom

Our global work environment has helped to create an even greater gap between those doing the work in the field and those running the organization.  The policy and procedure (P&P) manual just does not address the reality of the work-a-day world on a drilling platform thousands of miles away from the home.  Nor are the regulations (regs) any real indicator of what can go wrong.  Add to this the multi-diversities of mixed country, mixed culture workforces that are reality at the job site, and it becomes even clearer that P&Ps and regs are not adequate safeguards for the people, the environment, or the capital investments in our global work world. 

The P&Ps and regs are necessary foundational principles that provide important guidance.  However, they do not address the complex underlying workplace cultural issues that occur 24/7 in an ever more dangerous, potentially disastrous work world that did not exist 40 years ago when the regs approach birthed the P&Ps.  The challenging issue facing us is dealing with safety and environment cultures in an extremely disconnected workforce.

My experience in working with petrochemical and drilling industry organizations is that the people absolutely do care.  They simply do not know what the underlying culture issues are, nor do they know how to fix the issues once they are presented with a good diagnosis.  The culture of regs and P&Ps has not prepared them well for their ever more complex and challenging workplace reality.  There is good news in this scenario: The people and organizations that make up the petrochemical work world are typically excellent problem solvers once they have a good picture of reality and some effective tools to work with. 

In my experience a solution that has worked well is conducting a two phase safety/environmental culture assessment 
  • Phase one is a quantitative perception survey that points out the cultural reality strengths and weaknesses in management, front line supervision and hourly workforces  
  • Phase two is the performance of qualitative interviews that engage people from each of the levels of the organization in a dialogue that fleshes out the issues noted in the quantitative perception survey. 
  • Obviously this leads to the next step, which is an interactive discussion with leaders from all three organization levels.  From this step comes a strategic and tactical plan to address and resolve the safety/environmental culture  shortfalls that are true indicators of potential disasters

·        The second part of the solution is training volunteer members from all levels of the organization  in developing solutions to indicated weak areas.  The training is all about engaging members of the workforce in solving the culture issues that the regs and P&Ps do not address.  The process here is Continuous Improvement teams that engage all levels of the organization in a relentless pursuit of a zero incident workplace. 

This approach has been proven to work time and again in the global zero error quality cultures that have given us incredible gains in product quality, reliability and sustainability over the last 40 years.  This approach works in going beyond the regs and P&Ps to continually focus on the elimination of real and potential physical and cultural  hazards that can lead to the disasters we must avoid in our current and future global, extremely diverse work world.        

  The Doc

Image Credits: SunSentinel 

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