Monday, July 25, 2011

Logos – who do you represent?

The small company I have worked for over the last decade was recently bought by a very large company, Caterpillar. Lots of things changed significantly in going from an entrepreneurial organization with about a dozen employees to a global Fortune 50 mega-company with more than 100,000 employees. A small part of the package was a set of shirts I was sent with the Caterpillar logo on them.

I was surprised to find out how this seemingly small token has significantly impacted my travel realities. No, it is not about getting perks because of the big company. The real change has been the notoriety of the logo. Now fellow travelers frequently ask me if I work for Cat and then launch into a discussion that deals with something of interest to them about this company that has one of the three most worldwide recognized logos.

Today in a hotel elevator in Washington DC, a Saudi Arabian man saw the logo and struck up a conversation about purchasing Cat® equipment in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. This is quite far afield from the safety consulting focus I truly represent for Caterpillar. However, this recent circumstance and many other similar ones brought to mind the consideration of just who do I represent to others? A little thought about the origin of the word “logo” led me to the Greek term for knowledge.

The current knowledge of the Cat brand for this Saudi man and the others comes from the people who built the brand. However, once they begin a discussion their knowledge of the brand and its logo is adjusted by their impression of how I represent the image behind the logo. So their last impression is a result of my personal logo and how it fits to the company logo.
And that led me to consider what my personal logo truly is as I somewhat subconsciously communicate my logo to others. Their perceived knowledge of me is a result of my actions with them. And that has led me to rethink some of my actions to improve my brand in areas that were a part of my blind spots.

How is your personal logo? Are there any blind spots that may have tarnished your otherwise shining star?

The Doc

Monday, July 18, 2011

General MacKenzie – the importance of face time

Over the years I have met a number of interesting people. One of my favorites is a person whom I consider to be a Canadian National Treasure, retired Major General Lewis MacKenzie. Lew had the doubtful pleasure of commanding the United Nations forces in Kosovo during the major conflict times. One evening while we were discussing leadership principles he told me a story that made a lot of sense.

General MacKenzie was in command a hodgepodge of troops from many different countries, races and ethnic backgrounds. The high command of the UN decided this challenging mix of soldiers needed to be stationed in Sarajevo which was in the middle of the battle zone between the factions who were at war over who was to control the country. His command was significantly divided across all kinds of challenging beliefs, values ethnicities and experiences. Added to this was the fact that every day his whole command was being regularly shelled from three directions while he received a seemingly infinite string of nit picking, non value added, sometimes conflicting commands from UN brass and bureaucrats.

As Lew struggled with trying to achieve some semblance of control over this chaos his Command Sergeant Major (CSM) made his thoughts known; Morale was in the toilet and The General needed to make his presence real at the battle front with the troops he commanded. After some intense discussion Lew ordered the CSM to come to his office in the morning, after lunch and in the evening every day. When his CSM entered The General put down the paperwork and followed the CSM to the field for an hour of face time with the various units under The General’s command.

His whole organization’s culture dynamic took a major turn for the better as order, personal discipline and morale were lifted beyond measure.
Each of you is an important leader in your organization, whether you realize it or not. And your people need to see you and interact with you at the workface. If you will put down the office work and make your leadership visible and felt you will be amazed at how much better your organization performs.

Thank you Major General Lewis MacKenzie for this lesson in leadership.

The Doc

Monday, July 11, 2011

GPS – Recalculating our way to excellence

On road trips I often use a GPS navigation device to guide me along the drive. After entering the destination a voice tells me which road to follow, as well as when and where to make each turn. When I leave the pre-determined route, either accidently or on purpose, the GPS voice says “recalculating” and gives instructions to get back on the correct path to my destination.

How I wish there were a voice from on high that told us how to recalculate our approach to safety in the workplace and at home when someone in our midst takes the wrong path and puts our final destination of going home injury free at risk.

There are all kinds of road signs along the way in the form of policies, procedures and regulations with respect to safety. And yet our employees, and yes on occasion ourselves, take a detour from best practices that put ourselves and others at risk.

As Dr. Dan Petersen used to say “if the answer to who is in charge of safety is anything other than ‘I am’ it is an accident waiting to happen.” So, when we have a close call or an injury, we need to take personal responsibility to stop our other activities and recalculate our path to a zero incident workplace. Pay attention to the workplace indicators and treat them as a voice from on high to change our way and get back on the path to the zero incident culture that we all want to have.

The Doc

Monday, July 4, 2011

License plates – remembering and learning from our heroes of the past

One of my favorite license plates is the one used in Qu├ębec. The surrounding text reads; “Je me Souviens” or “I remember” in French. To me this speaks of a proud heritage developed by the men and women of past generations. Another of my favorites are those that speak of veterans who have served in our country’s military. I especially like my brother-in-law’s Purple Heart license plate and am glad to have him park it on our farm as he stays with us for six months each year.
On this day, our country’s celebration of Independence, I also think of, and give thanks for, the many people in the safety profession who have contributed to our profession and the safety of people throughout the world. Sure our technologies have improved since the days of the safety giants like Heinrich, Petersen and Bird. But, as one of my military friends told me; “We stand on the shoulders of those who went before us.”
During this holiday week I am in remembrance of our past heroes who labored to give us Independence from the seemingly never ending onslaught of military oppressors. And I add to this, heartfelt thanks for the continuing efforts of those in our profession who work to give us independence from the seemingly never ending onslaught of potential injuries in the world’s workplaces and at home.
The Doc

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