Unintended Well-Intended

July 03 2023
By: Shawn M. Galloway

"We are experiencing many injuries with our drivers rushing to get in and out of their trucks." This delivery services company was experiencing a lot of these truck-related slips, trips and falls. This was one of the areas they wanted me to explore when conducting an occupational and safety culture assessment.

As I visited several of their locations, a particular poster was ubiquitous within. It was a marketing advertisement showing a company driver, with bags of their products in each hand, slung over each shoulder, leaping from the truck towards the ground. The message to potential clients? Speedy service you can count on. The unintended subliminal message to company drivers? Hurry to keep customers happy.

Man in suit with palm on forehead. Another client, an onshore oil and gas exploration company, was experiencing production over safety perceptions being voiced by the crews. Every field-based employee could quote the senior vice president. "The oil has been in the ground for millions of years; we don't need to rush. We can wait another day." But often throughout each day, the crews received calls from other leaders asking for updates on the drilling process.

While correlation is not causation, the unintended consequences of these mixed messages are a great place to intervene.

"He is led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention." — Adam Smith

"My experience in government is there is a whole host of unintended consequences you have to think through. I can't un-know that, I find it harder now to offer simple solutions." — Jo Swinson

"Unintended consequences get to the heart of why you never really understand an adaptive problem until you have solved it. Problems morph and 'solutions' often point to deeper problems. In social life, as in nature, we are walking on a trampoline. Every inroad reconfigures the environment we tread on." — Richard Pascale

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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