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A Leaders Strategy

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

I've often found wisdom in unexpected places, including literary works and the thoughts of renowned leaders. A pertinent example is the exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland." This dialogue, though fictional, provides a lens to understand the significance of strategic direction in enhancing safety performance and culture within organizations.

The Importance of Direction in Safety Strategy

Alice's conversation with the Cheshire Cat illustrates a fundamental truth: the necessity of having clear goals and strategic direction in organizational safety. Without these, efforts in safety improvement can become aimless, leading to negligible progress despite significant effort. In the oil and gas industry, resources are limited and operational challenges are complex. Hence, having a strategic focus is crucial for prioritizing actions and choosing proactive safety interventions.

Strategic Thinking in Safety: “Zoom In, Zoom Out”

Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s “Zoom In, Zoom Out” concept underscores the importance of viewing both the minutiae and the overarching picture in strategic decision-making. In safety management, this translates to understanding both the immediate safety concerns (Zoom In) and the broader implications for the organization’s safety culture (Zoom Out). Viewing the corporation as a white-water river, we recognize how decisions made at higher levels cascade down, influencing every facet of the organization.

Involving All Stakeholders

In the realm of safety, it’s imperative that leaders not only prioritize and execute improvement objectives but also gain the buy-in of all stakeholders. This includes employees, contractors, and vendors. They need to see the value and rationale behind safety initiatives, understanding their role in contributing to the wider goal of safety excellence.

Proactive Leadership in Safety

Exceptional leaders in the oil and gas industry eschew reactive responses to events. They opt for a clear direction focused on preventing incidents and injuries while enhancing the safety culture. These leaders establish proactive accountability systems to encourage discretionary performance, challenge the status quo, and effectively manage the cultural beliefs and experiences within the organization.

Measuring Success Beyond Results

Successful safety leadership isn't just about achieving impressive results. It’s about measuring both leading (activities) and transformational (performance progress) indicators.

This approach ensures that continuous improvement is more than just a concept but a tangible reality in the organization. When transformational results are achieved, they represent not just a milestone but a stepping stone towards long-term safety excellence.

In conclusion, the journey towards safety excellence in the oil and gas industry requires more than just action; it demands strategic direction and a comprehensive understanding of both the immediate and long-term implications of safety decisions. Inspired by lessons from literature and leadership, we can guide organizations to not just ‘get somewhere’ in safety but to reach new heights of excellence.

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