Managing for Success in Safety

This site is about how to obtain success in safety and in other (business) areas. The reason why I call it “Success in safety” is that my experience has been in industrial risk management and safety for over 40 years. During those years, I developed some ideas about what we can do, and how, to create success. Our own success and that of those around us. Obtaining success is not related to any specific business area – what is true for safety is also true for other areas. The principles to obtain success is the same and, in principle, it is simple and can also be applied in private life.

That basis for success in safety includes three items: (1) have an objective, (2) make a plan, and (3) carry out the plan. Too simple? Let us briefly think about that. Without an objective, where would we go and what would we do? We would probably do nothing and just wait to see what will come our way; anything – good or bad. But remember: illness, sadness, accidents and disaster will come by itself; if we do not want those, we need to work at it, have an objective, a goal, and a plan to carry out and adjust when we are on our way.

Behind success there must be a driving force; it must something we really want; if we don’t we are likely to give up before we get there. So, if our success objective further away in the future, it will help to  set intermediate objectives – call them milestones, as you want – so we can move along those during our journey. We will then also make more than one plan, one towards each milestone and then the next one. The principles, however, remain the same.

Although this blog will be about organizational/industrial success, the same principles apply equally to private life. The main difference between the two may be that the organizational environment may be somewhat more difficult as we may have to consider the interests of many people. But in any case, in both business and private life, our success will probably depend on other people, so we must get them to agree on the objective and involve them on making the plan and carry it out. Seen in that light, two items are the essential: (1) to speak the same language so you can agree on the objective, and (2) know how to make the plan to involve all that need to be involved to reach success; from the organization’s leadership to the people that do the actual work.

The basis is simple, whether we are on our own or part of an organization. Whether we are working in an organization or external as a consultant helping our clients to get their success.

The picture above represents the generally accepted development phases bringing the accident rate down, improving safety performance. While this chronological development often may represent practice, it also may not be the logical – right – way leading to success in safety. I think that we may agree that organization is the right place to start – whenever we start thinking about setting up a company or organization. Organization – as “the way we organize and do things” – drives technology and culture. At the start of a venture , essential issues – driven, maintained and improved by organization – include criteria to create facilities and working environment and to hire and train people how interact with the facilities. The way to involve people in the making and improving of organization is the basis to obtain a culture towards ongoing success in safety and in other matters.

Leadership creates the framework, the environment, conditions for success.The actual success, however, materializes at the “point of action” whereby the work is done by the people who know how the work should be done. Management levels between leadership and the point of action are part of the process and communication – they form the two-way communication channels between top and bottom. People at the action point can make or break the organization and its success; safety is the area that directly relates to their well-being.

OK, hopefully we agree that the basics of obtaining success are simple. However, let us also agree that getting success maybe a bit more complex and complicated – mainly because we must deal with people. It will take leadership, decision-making, effort, work, endurance, commitment, empathy. It also will take time; maybe more than a little, depending on where we are when we start.

We will deal with relevant issues through the blogs that we will share, step-by step; side-stepping as needed or useful. Let us try to keep that as simple as possible which we can do that by looking at issues from a certain distance; when too close to the forest all we may see are the trees and when too far away we just may miss the forest. Let us try to agree on basics – maximum 3 to 5 issues at one time – before moving along; if we do not agree of those basics, we will never agree on the detail that may come later.