There are many conversations about why safety science practitioners should try to win over business leaders. It sounds good. But the danger is that this might happen…
Once convinced that safety is interesting, at this point they will stop listening internally and start listening to someone else. Business leaders want to engage on a like level. They will want to look outside for progressive ideas. Why? There can’t be anything inside the organization that they don’t already know. After all, they are the leader.
So the search will be on for an inspirational prophet preferably one that says things that the leader already believes. This prophet will originate from either another country than your own, preferably with a larger population than your own, or from a larger corporation in your own country. The prophet could take the form of an individual, consulting firm or large business with first class engineering that spins off a “safety leadership program”.
At this point control has been lost. An expensive product will be introduced. It will take a long time to introduce because “deep change takes time”. The program will involve a lengthy “journey”. The future will involve grand visions – not a bad idea of themselves – but delivery that descends into prominent illusions rather than meaningful action.
It will generally be a process of barracking for safety. Like cheering on a horse in a race from the betting shop. It’s not affecting the race but it sounds noisy and “passionate”.
The implementation phase will involve “leaders” walking around “showing their commitment”. How will they show their commitment?
(a) By doing their job well?
(b) By walking around telling other people “at the coal face”, who’s jobs they don’t understand, what they are doing wrong?
No. (a) will not happen. Firstly that is too hard. Secondly they don’t know how to. Thirdly, and most importantly, no one would see it.
Yes, (b) is the answer as it’s easier and it is visible.
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