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  • Writer's pictureLeverage Safety

Key Questions for Organizational Alignment

Updated: Jul 15

Organizations aspiring to achieve sustainable excellence must address a fundamental question: Do we aim to be the best in the world in our operational category or simply do our best?

The distinction between these two perspectives leads to different answers and outcomes. To achieve organizational alignment and foster a culture of safety excellence, it is crucial to move beyond mere statements of core values and embrace accountability and clarity. This article explores the importance of asking key questions when making operational decisions and their impact on safety, behavior, ownership, insight, and the pursuit of safety excellence.

The Role of Operational Decisions: High-performing organizations base their operational decisions on critical considerations. Safety should be at the forefront of these decisions, influencing and shaping the overall direction. It is essential to evaluate how a decision enhances or compromises safety in any facet. While complete elimination of risk is unrealistic, we must assess whether the decision aligns with the pursuit of safety excellence, maintains the status quo, or even sets us back.

Influencing Behavior: Understanding the impact of decisions on personal behavior is crucial. People act for a reason, and if we seek to comprehend and shape behavior, we must address underlying motives. Behavioral approaches teach us that changing influences leads to behavioral change. Therefore, we need to determine whether a decision positively or negatively impacts the factors that drive desirable behavior. Remember, altering individuals' motivation will inevitably result in changes in their actions.

Promoting Ownership in Safety: Ownership in performance is essential for achieving excellence in any operational category, and safety is no exception. Dr. Deming's wise words, "People support what they help create," highlight the significance of ownership. Meeting performance objectives is necessary, but true excellence stems from organizational alignment and individual contributions toward a shared goal. Evaluate whether a decision fosters individuals' sense of ownership in safety and empowers them to take responsibility.

Gathering Insights: Decisions often evoke emotional responses before logic comes into play. Empowering others to make similar decisions that consider the core value of safety is crucial. Actively seek insights from those affected by the decision, as they can provide valuable perspectives and shed light on potential operational safety implications. Engage in dialogue, listen attentively, and ensure that safety considerations are integrated into the decision-making process.

Working Towards Safety Excellence: If our ambition is to be the best in safety, every decision should reflect that goal. Operational decisions should align with the organization's intent and move us closer to safety excellence. Assess whether a decision takes us in the right direction, has no impact on our pursuit of excellence, or diverts our focus. Keep the ultimate goal of safety excellence at the forefront when making decisions and ensure they contribute to the organization's safety objectives.

Cultivating a Culture of Progress: Core values cannot become culturally shared beliefs if they are delegated to a single person or department. To reinforce core values and foster progress, ongoing dialogue and testing are necessary. Establish a culture where decisions are validated on a case-by-case basis, aligning with the organization's values and safety objectives. Remember, the decision to create a culture of safety excellence lies in your hands.

Achieving organizational alignment and cultivating a culture of safety excellence requires thoughtful consideration of key questions when making operational decisions. By prioritizing safety, influencing behavior, promoting ownership, gathering insights, and working towards safety excellence, organizations can build a culture where progress is consistently validated. Remember, core values must be embraced and tested to become shared beliefs. Together, let's embark on the journey of creating a culture that places safety at the forefront and drives excellence in every aspect of our operations.

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