Inertia and Mass

December 11 2016
By: Terry L. Mathis

Why is it ok to put your foot out from the dock to stop a canoe but not a tugboat? Both have inertia but they have radically different mass. Safety cultures are often designed or modified to create a common direction or focus. This creates the cultural version of inertia. The culture starts moving in a positive direction and may gather speed along the way. But the real factor that will determine how long that movement lasts is the mass of the culture.

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Many safety initiatives are more platitudes than values, more talk than substance. Trying to improve safety without a true strategy can be a fleeting thing. Unless hearts and minds are aligned around purpose and direction, hands and feet will eventually quit moving. The basic human needs beyond survival necessities are affinity and affiliation. If your safety culture gives its members something to believe in and belong to, it will have the mass to propel itself all the way to excellence. Without the mass, the inertia can be stopped easily by any competing priority.

Terry L. Mathis

Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.

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