The Program Mentality

February 25 2015
By: Terry L. Mathis

In spite of some progress toward strategic thinking, safety efforts remain largely program- or process-minded. This is kindred thinking to the "more is better" and the "silver bullet" mentality of the past three decades. Organizations think the new program is going to be the add-on to their existing efforts producing the magic that gets them to zero. Consultants and trainers answer this demand and produce product-and-process things to sell to organizations. The chase to fail less this year than last goes on.

The vast majority of organizations we assess do NOT need a new program or process. In fact, most need to get rid of some of their existing ones rather than add new ones. More is not better; only better is better, and adding on to failing or falling-short efforts is not the answer. None of the programs or processes are silver bullets or magic pills. Once an organization begins to press the limits of programmatic and new-process thinking, the way forward is almost always a strategic approach. Strategies are more successful at producing reduction rather than simply adding more programs.

Terry L. Mathis

Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in "The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS" three consecutive times. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, WILEY).

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