Safety – Time for a new direction


Many organisations are on a journey where it becomes willing to accept that errors do happen: practice is not perfect, risks have to be taken. This obviously clashes with a vision of zero-harm (which indeed is more of a vision than a realistic goal). A couple of things happen with a slavish commitment to zero-vision and the idea that errors do not happen:

– People will be motivated or incentivized to hide errors and their consequences. This creates shame and guilt and stigmatizes both error and those involved;

– All incidents, no matter how small and inevitable, were once likely to be investigated without regard to their relevance, impact or inevitability, potentially distracting and wasting resources that are better spent on deeply analysing “the incident of the month” for example;

– Learning and improvement can be eroded by a zero vision, as it is based on having nothing negative happen. With nothing happening, what is left to learn from? Resilient organizations do not focus on reducing backward-looking negative events, but on the positive, forward-looking capabilities of people and teams to recognize, adapt and absorb even those challenges that lie outside the predictable scope or design envelope.

The session explores,

  1. Traditionally people are seen as a risk to control in organisations. They are controlled by limiting their choices and behaviours or by placing constraints between them and the actual work. What would happen if we saw people as part of the solution? What are the behaviours and language associated which either option? Do you see some of these in yourself? What do you /we/LOR need to do to shift this paradigm?
  2. Safety performance gets confused with Accident rates. What if we measured some else? What would it be? How would we know if it was working? What would the target be or would there be one?
  3. Paperwork has grown and the bureaucracy around safety is now a significant problem. What do we ask the projects to do or what do we do that adds little value? What’s the dumbest thing that we get people to do?
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