Monday, May 31, 2010

Six World Class Safety Culture Necessities

A company safety director and friend recently asked for my thoughts on what 4 to 5 bullets I believe would drive safety leadership. This was food for thought for an executives’ discussion on world class performance. I originally thought of Dr. Dan Petersen’s 6 Criteria of Safety Excellence or CoreMedia’s 6 Levels of Safety Performance.

Because his execs were already familiar with these concepts I gave into their desire for “something new.” With that in mind, these are my immediate thoughts on the subject:
  • Safety Accountabilities at every operational level that are well defined, value added, trained, measured and rewarded
  • •Excellence in safety communications that are: consistent, frequent enough, preach the message, recognize the results of good performers
  •  Continuous Improvement teams that relentlessly pursue zero incident goals at every facility and are measured by their action completions
  • A weeding out of employees that don’t support this safety culture change at all levels of the organization
  •  A world class, intense incident investigation and near miss process that is followed and reported on religiously at every site
  • A recognition system that uses the above leading metrics and reinforces the importance of safety excellence activities that make a difference
I asked my friend to give these some thought and thanked him for asking.

The Doc

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vis á vis

Vis á vis is a French phrase meaning face-to-face. Not really like the Western term meaning “In your face,” but more like a caring engagement between two or more people.
OK so sometimes in safety, as well as other professions, you are called on for in your face moments. However, this is not the type of ongoing culture that leads to performance excellence.

In truth the object of this short blog article is to invite you all to a friendly, professional face-to-face experience that will be enjoyable for all of us. The ASSE-PDC occurs June 13 – 19 in Baltimore, MD.
This is the BIG vis á vis event for all of us at CoreMedia. Most of our staff will be in booth 2110 Sunday June 13 through Tuesday June 15.

In addition we are also giving two professional topics about achieving specific aspects of safety culture excellence. On Monday June 14 at 4:30 pm I will present “Getting Senior Management to Invest in Changing Safety Cultures” at session #564.

Wednesday at 3:15 pm is Todd Britten’s turn on the podium for “Safety from an Executive’s Point of View: Turning complaints into Efficiencies” at session #785.

CoreMedia is a company of people who are serious about helping others light a cultural fire of safety excellence. We all hope you will stop by the booth, join in the presentations and engage in a friendly face-to-face conversation as we share the warmth of a mutual commitment to a safety culture fire of excellence.

The Doc

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Five Per Centers

Over the years I have worked with many organizations to assist them in cultural improvement processes. Those who engage in this approach have greatly benefitted in both safety and operations related performance metrics. My experiences often reveal a common cultural demographic:
  •  About 5% of their salaried and hourly work forces are very negative
  • About 5% of their salaried and hourly work forces are very positive
  • About 90% of their salaried and hourly work forces follow which ever 5% has the upper hand
The culture improvement process must address all three segments. But where to start? The answer typically is to begin with those that will help you get better, the 5% positive people. For this kind of information and more I begin with some diagnostic work to find out what the perceived underlying problems are for all 100% of the employees.
From there work begins with the positive group who participate in Continuous Improvement (CI) teams
which start solving the problems that the negative 5% complains about and the 90% followers know about, but don’t much verbalize. Within nine months or so the results of the positive improvement team groups become apparent to all. This is the “tipping point”where the 90% followers join the 5% positives and the organization swings to about 95% positive. As a natural consequence, and with a healthy dose of peer pressure that also occurs on its own, the 5% negative group becomes much less of a problem to progress and day-to-day reality.

So what’s next? A relentless pursuit of zero errors (problems) by an ever expanding group of positive force CI teams and the subsequent noticeable reduction of negative influence by an ever smaller group of cultural anchors.

This focus on effectively engaging the positive force in your organization works exceedingly well, no matter what your business, no matter where it is located. Why not give it a try?

The Doc

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Highest Bidder

Some years back my mother died and this sudden end to 51 years of marriage left my Papa understandably despondent and very lonely. After some recovery time he came to me for advice; “Should he remarry?” I wasn’t really prepared for the role reversal, yet I was humbled that papa respected me alone for this kind of life important decision. We had some in depth discussions that lead to a mutual decision that remarriage was truly appropriate.

I then gave him some whimsical advice that went something like; “Papa you are a rare commodity. A man in his 70s who is in good health, has a full head of hair and is in decent financial shape. There aren’t enough of your kind out there to satisfy the huge numbers of single older women who also truly desire some lasting companionship. If I were you I’d consider going to the highest bidder.” We both had a good laugh and off he went on a quest that led to his second marriage. The woman he married was destitute. In fact she lived in the woods and shot (poached) deer with her .22 just to feed herself. And papa had made the right decision; he married not for money but for a mutual love that lasted to the end.

We all experience some crossroads in life that beg the question of which road to travel; money or a good fit? Ok so sometimes we get both, but not most of the time. Each time I have hit this decision point my wife and I have sat down and analyzed, to the best of our ability, which of the possible paths to take. I once took money and the money was very good, but the personal stress level it took to earn that money, as the old saying goes “Damn near killed me.”

And a better saying for this kind of situation goes something like “What good is it if a man should gain the whole world and yet loose his soul?” At the next crossroads your better choice likely deals with what is the best fit for your skills and your family’s true needs. Beware of the various evils that come from the love of money. In my experience love of family and life is a better, lasting choice.

The Doc

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Go Away Bird

The Savannahs of Africa are home to a strange species called the “Go Away Bird.” This bird inhabits trees near congregations of animals. When a kind of animal different from the herd comes to the area this bird sings out a call that sounds like someone saying “Go Away! Go Away!” The wise animals look up to see what is approaching and then react to whatever is, or is not, a danger. And some of the animals pay no attention to the warnings, as testified to by the innumerable carcass parts that litter the African countryside.

Our safety environment has any number of parallels to the Go Away Bird. Mobile machinery alarms, seatbelt alarms, machinery guards, lock out tag out processes, experienced employees, and others all come to mind. After living in our environment for a period of time there is a human tendency to drop our guard. When this happens we tune out the many kinds of alarms that just become part of the common background we ignore as we go about our day-to-day routines. And detailed safety records are littered with the injuries of our fellow employees who fall into this kind of trap.

What are the “Watch Out Birds” that exist in your organization? How can you raise a daily awareness of these important warnings that help protect our people? In so doing let’s live a safety culture that doesn’t become complacent to the dangers that exist in our environment.

The Doc

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Missionary

Our culture has a rich tradition of missionaries. And there are many kinds of missionaries out there putting forth their messages. In this case I’d like to concentrate on the missionaries that both preach and practice what they preach about saving peoples lives. Yes, I guess they could also be called sales people, but not those with a message about cars, or diets or the like. Let’s stay focused on saving lives.
Such a missionary has spent time in the study of their “profession” along with its rules of engagement, dos and don’ts, unique cultural realities, etc. These missionaries are also practitioners of what they preach because people are watching to see if what they say is true in what they do. And they are trainers of their message, lifestyle and culture. They have and live zeal and passion for what they profess. In essence they must be professionals in every sense of the word.

Is not this kind of missionary a good model for the safety professionals? Are we not about making disciples of all the people we come in contact with both on the job and after hours? Should we not have passion and zeal for the saving of people’s lives both on and off the job? How can we be more believable to all with whom we come in contact? What do we need to change in our study and approach to get the people we are trying to reach to become disciples for the messages and practices of a zero injury safety culture?

The Doc

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