The Trouble with Sustainability

July 26 2021
By: Shawn M. Galloway

What else can we do? What other things are out there that we can implement to help us improve safety? What are those guys/gals doing over there? XYZ process worked for us at my last company, why not try that? I just heard about this new approach to… sound familiar? We all have heard Einstein's advice that, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results." He didn't mean to do things completely different. He meant with zero variation from today's practices, we shouldn't expect improvement.

The Trouble with Sustainability Of course we should continue to mature our thinking and seek better practices, but that doesn't mean throwing out what we have done to search for the next hot or shiny new approach or tool. The question should be, "how can we do better with our approaches to improve safety performance and safety culture," not, "how can we do more?" Unless you are still stuck in 1980's or 90's safety, more is rarely the answer. Better is.

So, what is the trouble with sustainability? We leaders are impatient and easily distracted with the desire to do something different. The problem with this is we end up disengaging the very people whose engagement is critical for our success. We can fail less with our safety performance and end up losing the engagement battle. When this happens, guess what else isn't sustainable? Safety performance. Stop searching for the next best practice. Seek to better your practices.

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 700 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, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.

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