Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Zero – Incident Rate Reality

What is a good incident rate goal?  Whenever this topic is brought up there seems to be an emotional sparring that goes on about:
  • The futility of setting zero as a goal versus
  • Accepting the inevitability that somewhere along the line someone will get hurt, so why live in a fantasy world?

A few careers back I had responsibility for manufacturing engineering where an almost identical debate was endlessly waged over whether or not an organization could achieve zero downtime. Likewise it was emotional and agenda-driven by the sparring combatants who never really gave into nor accepted their adversary’s premise, no matter what was said. I came away with a threefold view point;   black, white and gray:
  • Black; Bad things happen and you just need to do your job diligently and accept what comes your way
  • White; No matter what happens I will strive for delivering excellence with every tool I can utilize
  • Gray; Why debate this inane emotionally packed issue?  Just go do the best you can and live with what comes your way

In that career my mantra became: Can we achieve zero downtime for a day? For a week?  For a month? For a quarter?  For…….?   It was the continuous improvement challenge; the relentless pursuit of zero downtime: 
  • What did we learn from developing permanent fixes
  • How could we apply these lessons to similar issues
  • Then to those that were loosely aligned
  • Then to develop and reinforce a culture that kept pushing the envelope in a relentless pursuit of a culture of zero downtime that everyone in the organization lived and supported

And so you have my read on the endless zero injury/zero incident rate debate. What good does it do to set a goal and then celebrate the achievement of a “satisfactory level of injuries?”  You can’t possibly win this kind of debate. Why not instead begin a culture that keeps achieving the next threshold and then moving that achievement to the next level, relentlessly?

The Doc 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Honor – Little things that make a big difference

Homes and farms in my rural living area offer produce, flowers and perennials for sale by the road this time of year. The stands are often unattended and operate on the “honor system.” Once your selection is made, you put your money in a cash box or an old coffee can. After that it is off to home to enjoy the fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers.

But, unfortunately the honor system doesn’t always work. I talked this over with one of my friends in as she told her tale. One day she glanced out her window a saw a well-dressed woman load pots of perennials into her vehicle. My friend was all smiles as she mentally calculated the profit from her labors. However, when she later checked the cash box it was empty!  The honor system revealed that this person was not honorable.

Perhaps to this person, taking the flowers seemed like a little thing. However, being honest in small things indicates how we will respond to the big things. Honesty in all areas of our lives is one way we can bring honor to all that we do and to our profession that deals with the saving of lives. Whatever we do in word or deed we should do with honor to those who brought us up, to the organization that employs us, to the profession we serve, to the higher authority we respect. And whether we realize it or not, others are watching and learning and evaluating based on what they observe about our words, deeds and actions. This is an observation system that is truly behavior based and has repercussions that go way beyond what is seen.  Let us all strive to live in untarnished honor in the small things and beyond.

The Doc 

Monday, May 13, 2013

The four “I” words behind safety culture excellence

There is no “I” in the word “team,” but according to one of our customers there is an “I” in safety – four of them, in fact. Four “I” words sum up what this customer believes it took to get his organization to begin the safety culture improvement journey.

Illuminate:  There is often a lack of understanding of what safety culture really is and how an effective improvement process takes place. There is general knowledge about regulations, the foundational basics of reacting to conditions in an effort to protect employees from the hazards that exist in the workplace. There is usually also some fairly general knowledge of visually recognizing unsafe acts and the need to address those who aren’t doing a job as safely as it could be done. Recognizing unsafe acts and conditions is not enough to achieve non-injury excellence for the people at the workface. There also has to be an illumination of the tools, techniques and commitment the personnel at all levels in an organization must utilize to improve a safety culture.  This goes way beyond knowing what to react to; it’s about engaging our people in the relentless pursuit of safety excellence.

Irritate:  The illumination knowledge experience must deliver an irritation with the current state of our safety culture reality. Complacency is the death of any initiative, safety or otherwise. The pearl of excellence does not begin without the irritation that initiates the building process. Or to quote another cliché, leading a horse to water doesn’t necessarily make them drink. The leadership of the organization must decide to do begin a journey of safety excellence.

Inspire:  Hopefully the Illumination stage of how to do this work coupled with dissatisfaction of the current state delivers enough dissatisfaction/irritation to begin the work necessary to transform the whole safety culture. This next step requires leadership across all levels of the organization to be a catalyst in the inspiration process. Upper management, supervision and hourly personnel must all actively inspire the followers at all levels to engage in the long term commitment necessary to improve what isn’t correct with respect to safety.

Implementation:  Understanding the theory does not deliver the solution. Planning what to do must lead to doing what is necessary. Our people must then check on the result of the implementation and actively work on what is necessary to keep improving and delivering an ever growing culture of correct. Just like in the famous quality improvement initiatives Plan – Do – Check – Act is a necessary living, breathing element in implementing a safety improvement process that delivers excellent results. 

The Doc

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fish – Improving your safety culture

There are a number of safety cultures for most every organization.  How does your organization handle the government regulations that focus on conditions, policies and procedures?  What about the culture that reacts to what is seen (both corrective and positive reinforcement) with respect to safety in the workplace and off the job?  How do safety accountabilities come into play for hourly, supervision and management personnel during work hours and beyond?  And how do you engage people from all walks in your organization in a focus on improving what just isn’t good enough for all those things you just read through above? 

In the ever changing organizational dynamic there is a need for all of us to learn how to engage in making our workplace, home and recreation safety cultures ones that just don’t tolerate what can lead to injuries.  The dynamic complexity does not allow us to be thrown a fish when it comes to getting better.  We need to learn how to fish so we can solve the safety problems which inevitably exist in both our working and off the job activities.  

Fortunately the necessary tools are not complex and require no math whatsoever.  They are simple concepts like POP (Purpose – Outcomes – Process), AIM (Action Item Matrix), Complaint Equals Goal, Cause and Effect Diagrams, Fault Tree diagrams, Process Maps and the like.  Learning how to use these simple problem solving and group engagement tools can revolutionize how your organization gets much better, much faster with respect to safety and productivity, and quality and customer service. 

Our upcoming webinar, “Learning to Fish: Preparing Your Facilitators to Leverage Caterpillar’s Continuous Improvement Model,” on May 22 by Caterpillar’s Todd Efird, CSP, will be an hour of in-depth, practical teaching about how to be a successful angler in the world of delivering safety culture excellence.  I hope this brief introduction has sufficiently baited your interest so you will hook up with Todd as you go deep and catch on to what it takes to successfully land a most excellent safety culture. View and preview of the presentation and register at safety.cat.com/webinars.

The Doc

Monday, May 6, 2013

Unicorns – Tackling unique safety problems

In times gone by my papa provided me with a wealth of practical knowledge from his school of hard knocks.  As a youth much of what I experienced was new territory to me, but déjà vu to my old man.  I just had to be open to accepting and applying the wisdom he made available to me.  On more than one occasion I was faced with difficult situations that could lead to troubling (or disastrous) results if I handled them poorly.  I think you readers can remember all kinds of personal decisions you also experienced while growing up such as; dating, driving, drinking, daring, etc. As Pop and I discussed these kinds of situations I can still hear him telling me, “Son, don’t ever play leapfrog with a unicorn.” 

How does this unicorn theology apply to safety?  When you are faced with a high-risk circumstance do not live in denial. Do not try to avoid dealing with the reality.  Do not play around with it or treat it lightly.  You can’t leapfrog it.  You must face it, tackle it head on and work through the reality that faces you – and do so very carefully.

The Doc

Connect With Us

Bookmark and Share
/////////////Google analytics tracking script//////////////// /////////////END -- Google analytics tracking script////////////////