One of the spin offs for the never ending Heinrich Accident Pyramid controversy deals with the type of risk that leads to serious injuries. In turn, this leads to discussions about not sweating the small stuff and just concentrating on the fatal risk issues. This type of organization typically has a tight focus on downstream indicators, like severity rate because “After all, this is where the real money is.”
I truly struggle with all that is behind this kind of thought process. I believe it is necessary to have an organization live the principles around a culture of correct in all that they do. My personal focus on this approach was reinforced during a turnaround leadership position I worked some time ago. This organization was suffering from both safety and operations perspectives. They lived a culture of “get ‘er done”, which, in turn, led to frequent downtime, quality defects, injuries, VP level scathing, destructive demands, high stress, explosions, ad infinitum, etc. As the local operations executive, my decision was to either follow the previous autocratic approach that delivered frequent, non-value added demands, or to begin a culture of correct. We modeled our culture of correct after the Deming philosophy of a relentless pursuit of zero errors. Whether it was small stuff or high risk, we resolutely stuck with what was the correct thing to do.
In the beginning, the going was very rough. Our 40 year culture inertia of “get ‘er done” was very resistant to change. In the end, our teams of employees fixed everything in sight, as well as lots that was not visible. We also addressed the invisible mindsets of our people. When our value became a culture of correct in all that we did, neither the low risk nor the high risk issues led to injuries. On the rare events when high risk situations presented themselves, the employees thought about what was correct, personally lowered their own risks and performed most excellently.
I think a culture of correct is the solution to the never ending Heinrich controversies. Why not try this approach within your organization?