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The Impact of Executive Decisions

Assisting workplaces to identify their concealed risks is one of the most complex tasks I undertake, mainly because risk often masquerades as normal, everyday occurrences. So, for our executives, if the everyday business is operating as expected, recognizing risk becomes harder, particularly if they're already seeing that their company is progressing towards a sustainable safety culture, characterized by reduced likelihood of risks and often coming after executives have successfully managed to obtain gains from investment and improvements in conditional safety (safety engineering) and behavioral initiatives (behavior-based safety).

It's rare for executive decisions to intentionally compromise safety. Typically though, decisions regarding safety are influenced by a mix of shareholder expectations, executive orders, company values, competitive pressures, personal goals, and sometimes, good intentions.

But the traditional methods used by Executives to quantify excellence often miss those risks that are under the surface, that are part of the organizational system that influences decisions, or simply because there's still much to learn in safety. But overall, our executives understand that safety has significantly evolved recently, and they understand that this is because current risk identification and mitigation techniques are being used that were inconceivable a decade ago.

Organizations though, are somewhat resistant to outside help, but when they're at a plateau in their improvements, they may eventually seek external consultants. It's critical that these consultants be endlessly curious, and knowledgeable about the latest research, methodologies, and best practices across industries, understanding that excellence isn't found in a one-size-fits-all solution and look deeper so that they can identify the value-add that the executives are looking for.

So whilst no consultant or program guarantees operational excellence, the consultant's role is to ask challenging, thought-provoking questions to start deeper improvement discussions, and it's crucial that executives maintain these conversations.

For our Executives, external perspectives can highlight unseen inefficiencies and opportunities for value, suggesting strategies for internal implementation to achieve significant improvements. Success depends on internal ownership of these strategies, reinforced by leadership through measurement, feedback, and continuous questioning.

For lasting excellence, an organization must decide its commitment to safety. The most successful organizations incorporate safety considerations into their decision-making from the very start. Questions like how a decision enhances safety, influences behavior and improves ownership in safety, might be difficult to consider, but they are crucial to creating sustainable value for the organization.

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