The Future of Safety is Why-Based

Rick Strycker

The Future of Safety is Why-Based

Safety is one of humankind’s most fundamental concerns. In everything we undertake, we hope to emerge on the other side intact and free from harm—ideally having learned something from the experience we can take with us into the next experience.

Looking after those around us is largely accepted as a fundamental human value.  In the past several decades, much progress has been made building up our safety competency, in virtually every corner of the world. And yet, we still have far to go—many people in their workplaces are hurt in all kind of ways; physically, mentally, and emotionally.

In recent years, many leaders have become dissatisfied with the amount of energy and effort spent on safety, which increasingly doesn’t generate the performance expected. It often seems like we are continuing to put more and more in (time, effort, money), and are getting less and less out.  The more we focus on the deficit, the larger it seems to be. In fact, there is a growing feeling that the way safety is often managed is creating a drain on overall performance and can sometimes even make safety worse.

Where most current approaches to safety focus on eliminating “negatives,” Why-Based Safety is a positive and inspiring approach, creating effective safety management focused on harvesting what is going right and building on it.

Why-Based Safety is the latest generation in safety thinking and practice, bringing together the latest safety research and cutting edge ideas in human organisational development inside one approach that generates breakthroughs in both safety performance and productivity.

Why-Based Safety starts with three core ideas, consistent with the principles of Why-based Organisations:

1)   Keep Safety Connected with the Company’s Why – which will naturally unleash passion, innovation and care instead of fear. Seek to embrace what is essential and let go of whatever doesn’t add value.

2)   Enhance Strengths – including creativity, resourcefulness, and our incredible capacity to develop innovative ways of dealing with complex challenges.

3)   Let People Be the Solution, not a problem to be solved or managed. By creating a condition of genuine care, people will naturally begin to generate innovative solutions.

Why-Based Safety reconnects safety with the company’s purpose, its “Why,” energising everyone to find themselves in a bigger context, unleashing discretionary effort where they can contribute to the organisation being both safe and productive.  People are at the center of this approach, and systems, rules and procedures are in place to support people, not the other way around.

Why-Based Safety draws from Simon Sinek’s groundbreaking Start With Why movement, which is spreading rapidly as a result of its simplicity and human-centeredness. The approach is also based on the latest safety science thinking, drawing from Sidney Dekker, Eric Hollnagel, and the Safety Differently lab.

Why-Based Safety is a service of WhyNot Partnering, an organisation that works globally and was established to help organisations create breakthroughs in performance by connecting with purpose and enabling people to be and do their best work.

As the world changes and evolves rapidly, so must the approach to workplace safety. This is why the future of safety is Why-Based – it combines what truly motivates people with what actually works in the field to harness the safest environment possible.

Rick is an organisational psychologist with expertise in personal and organisational transformation, leadership development, ontological design, strategy, assessment and diagnostics, and executive coaching.

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