June 05 2016
By: Terry L. Mathis
Everyone should have the perfect body type. They should be able to lift the same amount of weight and run at the same speed. They should be able to sing in the same range and dance with the same grace and style. If you think that sounds impossible for individuals, how difficult do you think it would be with groups of individuals? There is NO PERFECT SAFETY CULTURE! Yet, most models of safety culture improvement aim for that nebulous model.
It can be argued (and it has been) that perfection should be the goal and that we should approach it as closely as possible. The problem with that logic is there is no such model of perfection that universally fits all groups of individuals. Even the characteristics touted as ideal are not ideal to some. The very idea that all groups should have common characteristics is impractical. So, what should a safety culture be? It should not "be" but "do." An effective safety culture succeeds at safety. Success is about capabilities, not characteristics. A safety culture should be able to target a needed improvement and work together to accomplish it. Every group does that a different, unique way.
The way to improve a safety culture is one step at a time. As groups learn to achieve success, they move on to more successes. Forget the characteristics and teach people the basic capability of taking a safety step. You will find all challenges are easier one step at a time and, as the Chinese tell us, "Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
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.