Hello! Howdy! Hi!
In this week’s episode “Keeping the Main Things the Main Things: Controls Save Lives,” we continue on our multipart exploration into the “main things” relating to the safety of our workplaces. You can check out the podcast here.
What the heck are the “main things?” What matters? How can we get better at staying focused on what is important while avoid the safety bull shit that inevitably creeps into our work worlds?
Before we dive into the notes for this week’s episode, check out our friends over at SG World. Along with being a great bunch of people, they offer innovative, useful, and cost saving safety products for you organization/ visit them at SG World!
“Keeping the main things, the main things,” a thought derived from the iconic Stephen Covey quote: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” is about not losing focus on the things that matter, the truly important bits, the things that are most meaningful to achieving our key objective of not killing or maiming people at work.
A few key points:
You’ll never stop killing and maiming people at work by focusing on the things that do not kill and maim people at work.
We are really great at getting distracted by safety "feel goods" or "look goods," causing us to lose focus on the "main things."
We are really bad at prioritizing the meaningful over the meaningless as it relates to the safety of work.
A reflection on “real life”
I really love the example that Sidney Dekker provides during one of his talks about his inability to keep his home “incident and injury free;” it is such a relatable and “real life” example of how we apply illogical tactics to our work worlds that we would never pursue outside of work.
In addition to myself and Jerel, we share our home with our 7-year-old daughter (Avery) and our three dogs Leia (Belgium Malinois), Lily (Yorkiepoo), and Lucy (Sottish Terrier). Our garage is full of every kind of dangerous contraption a 7-year-old enjoys, such as bikes, scooters, hoverboards, heck there is even a pogo stick in there somewhere. To echo Sidney’s experience, I cannot keep my house incident and injury free for more than 24 hours much less days, weeks, months, or years on end.
For every bump while playing, every scrape while surfing, every banged up knee while riding a bike, every time something gets damaged or broken, every time one of the mutts loses control and chews something up or shits the rug, do we panic, freak-out, breakdown, believing that we are one step closer to some catastrophe? That we are failing? That we are just… the worst! NO. What do we focus on? It’s not bumps and scrapes, it’s not wasting time on the things that we know are insignificant. We focus on what matters, we focus on what's important, we focus on the main things. We spend our time making sure that those things that are harmful, the things that are seriously not good and result is seriously not good outcomes, the things that can really hurt them or worse, that they’re safe and protected. We take every effort to make sure that they are highly unlikely to be significantly harmed, even when everything goes wrong. It is why we make them wear helmets, why we put them in car seats, and why we lock away things that are harmful.
It is also why we invest so much time into creating an environment in which those in our care can tell us the things that they would usually rather not tell us, and we can hear the things that we would rather not hear. It is why we not only put a fence our swimming pools, but why we also seek to render those in our care competent by teaching them how to swim. We invest our time into the areas that we know increase the likelihood of better outcomes, even when the unexpected happens. It is why we craft an environment in which we can listen for, and learn about where our lifesaving controls are not present, ineffective, or broken.
It is not about making sure those in our care never fall down or about counting long streaks of time between people falling down. They’re gonna; they have a 100% chance of falling down. It is about making sure that when they fall down, they can fall as gently and as gracefully as possible. That when they fall down, that they can get backup. But that they/we also get back up smarter than before they fell down (Conklin). That’s our secret weapon, the ability to fail quickly, fail often, fail openly, and fail safely, and to not be embarrassed or shamed by the fact that we failed - To generate enough phycological safety to be able to openly admit and talk about failing, that is how we get better, that is how we get stronger.
I hope you enjoyed the show!
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My latest book will be coming out in August 2022. “The Care and Feeding of Safety Practitioners.” You can preorder the Kindle edition here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B3B2LLRL