In the dynamic realm of health, safety, and environmental consulting, the pursuit of safety excellence is undergoing a transformative phase. The traditional hierarchy of ownership and modification rights is being redefined, giving rise to a burgeoning wave of internal initiatives and a surge in innovative ideas.
Organizations, however, face a crucial question: who should be the custodian of these advancements, and what permissions exist to refine and build upon them? The answer to this question holds the key to fostering a culture of safety excellence.
Challenges of Dependency
When organizations encounter barriers to internal training, modification, or the evolution of safety methodologies, an unhealthy reliance on external entities emerges. This dependency impedes the pace of continuous improvement, creating a substantial hurdle to achieving safety excellence.
Embracing the New Industrial Revolution
As the safety industry, in sync with global trends, approaches a new industrial revolution, a noticeable shift towards do-it-yourself (DIY) and internally-led projects is evident. The proliferation of independent consultants and the swift dissemination of fresh ideas are transforming the safety landscape.
Accessible Knowledge in the Digital Age
Gone are the days when safety improvement concepts were confined to those with the means to file patents and mass-produce innovations. Today, with a simple web search, a wealth of operational and safety improvement ideas can be explored on various social media platforms.
The New Revolution in Idea Ownership
Over the past decades, there has been a noteworthy shift in the ownership of ideas from large corporations to small businesses and even the self-employed. This change, akin to Chris Anderson's notion of the "industrialization of the Maker Movement," signifies a move towards a more inclusive, DIY approach to safety innovation.
Navigating the Idea Landscape
To foster a culture of safety excellence, organizations must move beyond the traditional "find and adopt a best-practice" model. Instead, they should actively seek and incorporate outside ideas, avoiding the occupational hazard of 'breathing your own exhaust.'
Striking a Balance in Ownership
While trademarking and protecting intellectual property are essential for business continuity, the safety profession must strike a balance. Ideas to enhance safety should be encouraged, but their availability and flexibility of usage are equally crucial. This balance ensures that safety methodologies are internalized for sustainability.
Questions for Consideration
Whether you're an innovator or a potential consumer of safety ideas, certain questions can serve as decision filters:
In practice, how does this idea contribute to the journey towards an incident-free workplace and safety culture excellence?
Will this idea enhance the ability to internally improve and sustain results, or create dependency?
How flexible is this idea for internal usage, considering different cultures and operational realities?
How quickly and effectively can internalization of this idea occur?
How does this idea align with the broader safety excellence strategy?
Does the acceptance of the idea provide more long-term value to the creator or the consumer?
Addressing Financial Barriers
The global recession has highlighted financial barriers to safety advancement, with organizations struggling to pay licensing or royalty fees. While compensation for creators is essential, a collaborative approach focusing on value and equitable compensation fosters a win-win scenario for creators and consumers alike.
In the pursuit of safety excellence, it's not just about achieving results; it's equally about sustaining them. As the safety industry undergoes a paradigm shift, embracing innovation, fostering inclusivity, and navigating the complexities of idea ownership will be crucial for organizations committed to a safer and more sustainable future.