At the Art of Work, we have undertaken a significant number of enabling safety learning focus groups and interviews. In these sessions with safety professionals, we have found one question in particular to be the most difficult for them to answer: “what is the most significant improvement for how work is done that you have been a part of in the last 12 months?”
This question seems to be at odds with the intent and purpose of the safety practitioner work expectation; as rarely can respondents share an improvement contribution. I find this quandary to be fascinating, for, in the enabling safety paradigm, the constant quest to improve work as done is a central tenet of successful effort.
I was drawn to this thought whilst watching a video by Destin Sandlin - smarter every day where he set about redesigning a circular saw that eliminated kickback through the application of analytical design. Destin approached the problem through an engineering lens, utilising machine learning to design a system solution for the problem. This approach to the problem, seeking to improve work as done, is the enabling design paradigm.
The question that is worth contemplating is what is the effort of your safety team being applied to; and do those that do the work see their contribution as a solution to harness, or are they seen as working on the problem to control? Would there be greater yield by employing the problem-solving methods employed by Destin Sandlin, or is the question too challenging for the transactional paradigm?