Idea Ownership Doesn't Matter Until It Does

November 29 2021
By: Shawn M. Galloway

When consulting on how best to implement a safety improvement process, I received candid feedback from an employee. The client, located at the Port of Los Angeles, had one of the best 5S approaches I've personally witnessed. I tend to see more 4S programs as the 5th S (Sustain) is the most difficult to obtain.

As the implementation process would affect how people perform their work and would depend heavily on employee involvement, it made sense to have this be the 6th S - Safety. After assessing the systems and culture, this made sense to the safety manager and me. We pitched this idea to the hourly Chairperson of the 5S committee. His response, "It is like we built this successful new harbor, and now here you come with your new ship to tie off to it." Ouch. Message received.

Idea Ownership Doesn't Matter Until It Does In parallel, we stood up this separate committee. After a year of great success, it was time for me to disengage and ensure the committee's longevity was structured well without my support. When doing this, I'll audit the efforts and ensure they have a robust plan for the following year. The 5S Chairperson asked to sit in on the close-out meeting. Afterward, he wanted to speak with the safety manager and me. Following his positive feedback on the last 12 months, he proposed, "Wouldn't it make sense for us to merge these two approaches? I feel we are going after similar things, and it isn't very efficient." The safety manager, and I quickly looked at each other and, almost in harmony, replied, "That's a great idea!"

"True ownership of anything requires time."" - Barbara Holland

"Share ownership of your ideas. The more people who lie awake in bed thinking about your idea, the better."" - Scott Belsky

Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 650 podcasts, 200 articles and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow and Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers.