Safety + Health Magazine - February 2020
By: Shawn M. Galloway
Priorities result from decisions. "No time for strategy" is a poor decision. Are you making time for strategy? Strategy is a framework of choices, trade-offs, and small bets an organization makes to determine how to capture and deliver value. Strategy is sustained value creation over time. Is what you are working on in safety both of value and creating the perception of value with the internal customers and consumers of your safety improvement efforts?
Strategy and internal value creation are not well understood. In our consulting work, we routinely see companies simply aiming programs at problems instead of developing strategy. Strategy goes well beyond problem solving. Strategic thinking is an ongoing process, a way of being and behaving. When strategy isn't understood, it's ignored. Out of sight is out of mind. Ignoring strategy leaves you rudderless. You paddle around in circles. If all your attention goes into just staying afloat, you can't think ahead. People who need strategic thinking the most are often the very people who ignore it. They spend all their time ricocheting from one emergency to another, fire-fighting.
Attention needs to be reallocated to thinking ahead. When short-term behaviors are misaligned with long-term vision, you're continually surprised by events. Some of these can be painful, if not outright dangerous. An effective, robust strategy is critical for sustainable success in any area of business, externally and internally. Safety is no different. How effective is your safety strategy? After reviewing and providing feedback on countless enterprise-wide to site-specific safety strategies, we observed ten common problems. They are:
- Focusing on failing less and, thus, no clear vision of success
- Not using data to prioritize focused efforts which are largely opinion driven
- Not considering the sustainability factor of culture; culture is why your efforts will succeed or fail
- No clear roadmap outlining the steps along the journey or across the time-horizon
- Not planning across multiple years; there should be a minimum three to five-year time horizon that decisions are charted across; taking on too much and not following through or building upon is a common execution trap
- Not aligned with the business strategy and overall trajectory; safety strategy must support rather than hinder the overall trajectory of the business decisions
- No balanced scorecard with measurements that validate the efficacy of the choices and the value derived between actions and results
- Actors do not know their individual safety roles, responsibilities and results; thus, the strategy is not operationalized within line-leadership leading to safety leaders owning too much of the strategy
- No continuous marketing plan to solicit discretionary effort
- Not regularly updating the customers and consumers on the progress and current position in the plan; everyone needs to know where they are in the journey as time passes
What we do with our incident or injury prevention and cultural evolution efforts must be of value with decisions driven by data. Are your efforts focused on areas that create and provide real, sustainable value? Do the customers and consumers believe the safety efforts are of value? Do you have a have-to or a want-to culture? Make time for strategy. Don't be rudderless. For a self-assessment guide to determine the effectiveness of your current safety strategy, contact the author and reference Strategy Self-Assessment.
Shawn M. Galloway is the President of ProAct Safety and coauthor of several bestselling books. As a consultant, advisor, keynote speaker and icon in the industry, he has helped hundreds of organizations within every major industry to improve safety strategy, culture, leadership and engagement. He is also the host of the highly acclaimed weekly podcast series Safety Culture Excellence®. Shawn can be reached at 936.273.8700 or info@ProActSafety.com