A while back our extended family took an exciting Safari Camp vacation in Sub Sahara Africa. Our Maasai guide began looking for the game we wanted to view by searching for the animal’s "marfi" (this is the Swahili word for dung). He first found the old stuff and then followed it to the fresh poop. From there tracking began in earnest. Once he found the effect (marfi) his focus transferred to the cause (the animal).
Well of course I was thinking of personal safety as we tracked down a herd of 120 or so elephants who laid down quite a path of marfi. Yet there was a deeper message in the piles of poop. How often does the leadership efforts of our safety cultures focus on the old poop (injuries) or even the new poop, (the effects of a poor safety culture) and not on the causes of the marfi? We analyze the marfi. We discuss the marfi. We squabble over the marfi. And we often never get to the weak safety culture causes of the marfi. Are we ignoring the causes of “elephant in the room” as we dig ever deeper into the piles of poop left by it?
Yes, pay attention to the old marfi and the new marfi. They are indicators of the true causes of a weakness in your safety culture. But get out of digging in the poop and concentrate on eradicating the elephants that are tracking through the room of your safety culture and leaving their stinking piles that indicate the weaknesses you really need to work on.