June 26 2023
By: Shawn M. Galloway
How are safety improvement decisions made? Knee-jerk reactions to events, the latest fad, a pet project by an incoming new leader, a nice-to-have, or well-thought-out based on decision qualifiers?
Organizations require a strategy both inside and outside their organization, across the enterprise, and location by location or group by group. Outside the organization, the strategy focuses on creating a competitive advantage and increasing market share and market capitalization. Internal strategy focuses on growing the discretionary attention share of the people within the company.
In our 2016 book, Inside Strategy: Value Creation from within Your Organization, we wrote, "…inside strategy is a framework of choices organizations make to determine and deliver value." To make strategic choices, a framework must be in place to guide decisions, and there must be qualifiers to choose the decision. Three critical qualifiers are vision, data, and priorities.
The vision should be expressed in performance, results, and behavioral terms. The latter is essential because the strategy should focus on performance and culture. Data should drive decisions, not opinions. While the first data set almost always points to the holes in the data-collection strategy, objectivity is better than subjectivity with strategic choices. Priorities are determined based on data and the critical areas of focus to close the gap from the current state to the vision of the future state.
Strategy is just as much what to do as what not to do. If the intervention (knee-jerk, fad, pet project, or nice-to-have) to improve performance doesn't get us closer to the vision, data does not support it, and it is not within one of our priorities, perhaps the choice is not to pursue that action. Unless it is an edict coming down from the enterprise, which, if it does not fit the corporate vision supported by data or within the priorities, would have me asking, "what is the corporate strategy, and why isn't the location or group aligned to it?"
"When there aren't any smart decisions, I suppose you just have to pick the stupid decision you like best." — Orson Scott Card
"Strategy is creating fit among a company's activities. The success of a strategy depends on doing many things well—not just a few—and integrating among them. If there is no fit among activities, there is no distinctive strategy and little sustainability." — Michael Porter
"The straight line, a respectable optical illusion which ruins many a man." — Victor Hugo
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.