Conversations with Dune explore a variety of inspirational topics, practical tools for entrepreneurs, insights for parents, and anyone searching for a better way... Enjoy this one hour and fifty minute interview.
Here are some safety leader ideas from Lenessa Bannister, VP of Lennox Stores at Lennox International. I took the notes for you:
- Strike a balance of communication. Don't have too much information nor too little. Our corporate team has a Safety Engineer while we brought in resources to prove we deeply care about safety.
- The Safety Mindset succeeds when communication and consistency are cornerstones of our approach. You will never be perfect. Even at a time of ZERO recordable, maintain your safety culture.
- Best ways to communicate safety programs surround campaigns, use characters, and has to be in short bits to respect the time of the employees. 10 to 12 minute increments. Entire team has to be consistent with the message. Each zone personalize it with the needs of the team.
- Mobile communication helps with a distributed workforce. Walk throughs, safety training, video walk-throughs when auditing our safety protocol - even during a pandemic.
- Events help with communication initiatives. Specific to Power Lift we had them sign the poster and take pictures of them signing it. Shared a collaborative video that "We are committed to safety."
- It's important for Leadership to engage and give a face to involvement. Lennox does a tiered approach where everyone completes training. Involvement is posted and leaders show they stand with everyone else to go through training. Leaders are asked to bring up the safety training on their team meetings and team calls.
- All recordables lead to constant improvement.
- We have a peer to peer recording structure to ensure everyone feels safe to share without punishment from a higher-up. This increases the transparency. No one will be penalized for recording an incident.
- We call it a "Priority" not an "Initiative." We find this helps our safety numbers and even helps our bottom line. A single injury in a two person store, we know that productivity goes down when there is an increase load on the other person
- Customer service is consistently getting better with reduced recordables.
- Our work won't be done even when we get to zero.
- Making Safety Training interesting, we do competitions. Part of their role is sales we make sure it is a fun competition. Training is rolled into the point they get. Still has to be delivered in short bits. If there is an hour content module, then we split that into four short bits.
- To keep safety a priority, it's human nature, we want to be part of a celebration.
- We develop a playbook for safety initiatives, process change, recognition, ideas for our systems to stay strong.
Talk About It. Live it. Celebrate it.
Welcome Greg Kiraly with his decades of experience in the corporate world and especially with leadership in the safety space. Greg is a leadership speaker, coach and consultant along with his REBEL LEADER podcast. Greg is an experienced executive in all aspects of electric systems operations. He has demonstrated expertise in safety strategies, system reliability and cost controls.
Greg dives into various topics and ideas for safety leaders:
- What is the data telling you about what things could go wrong and how to reduce incident rates?
- Employ innovative approaches to the emotional connection for employees. For example, at Hydro One they used a Safety Brand that was "For Family, For Life."
- Build a program around your Safety Brand and emotional connection while you consistently look for opportunities to support that brand.
- Employee engagement works best if it has those employees involved in any and all initiatives.
- Reentry happens best when communication is the tip of the spear.
- Do the right thing immediately. Ie Tylenol being pulled off the shelf by Johnson and Johnson during the tampering scare.
- Give updates that are meaty, frequent and confident
- Ensure employees trust there will be permanent change, for good.
- It is always a mistake to make too drastic of a swing when reacting to a crisis or an issue. Keep it measured by continuing to engage with your employees in the conversation.
- Leaders need to be seen where the work is. Don't just sit in your office. Try to do what an employee does. This will elevate the respect that they have for you. Be sure to have insight on what they go through.
- Ensure there is a leader in every companywide safety training course. Do this consistently.
- When it comes to safety:
- Challenge Everything (especially established norms)
- Set the Bar Incredibly High (ie Zero Incident)
- Execute Relentlessly (employees want to see action)
- Pride is the deadliest of the seven deadly (corporate) sins because then you're not open to change.
- Cynics can hijack safety initiatives. The solutions is to pull them aside and ensure you spend time with them. Get their input. Do what it takes to turn them around.
- The "Cowboy" mentality is a frontline employee or leader who throws caution to the wind and sets a bad example. This can be a cancer in a culture. If they can't change their ways, then they need to be let go.
Much like Apollo 13’s urgent and calculated need for a specific reentry trajectory, we need a safe and specific reentry into The New Abnormal, post-pandemic work life.
While there’s a practical set of standards we all must follow, your organization will be making a mistake if it does not lead with the personal set of standards for reentry. Allow your practical standards to be more effective and embraced company wide.
Let's start with looking at a radical change from the behavioral change bias that exists in most conventional safety cultures. Instead of starting with Behavioral Change, think about Peak Performance Before Behavioral Change.
As an Olympian and Team Leader for Expeditions in the Himalayas, I find myself scratching my head when safety professionals lead with behavioral change. I’m not arguing that behavioral change isn’t important. In fact, it’s essential for a vibrant safety culture to institute behavior change initiatives to reach the elusive goal of zero incident. But, what if we can create a world-class safety culture with optimum safe behavior (without starting AT the behaviors themselves)? This is where peak performance can radically improve the adoption rates of safe, post lock-in behaviors.
Continuing to wash your hands, six-foot physical distancing, open spaces over enclosed environments, optimum foot-traffic lanes and even face masks are all practical applications of minimizing the spread of any kind of virus. Yet, peak performance is a function of a deep sense of connection to the outcomes you desire. For an athlete, it’s winning a race or competition. For a musician, it is an epic performance or song. But how does that translate into a peak performance for a fork-lift operator or a technician who spends a third of his or her time in a vehicle? The secret is in The Emotional Buzz.
A number of years ago, a large American Oil Company was struggling with tragic deaths and severe incidents as pipe was being laid in remote parts of Columbia. No matter of ‘Behavior Change Messaging’ was getting the desired effect. Senior executives took a radical approach to messaging from a different angle. According the team leader at the time, “We took our message to the spouses of the construction workers. Essentially, we said to the wives,
‘Hey, do you want your breadwinner to make it home tonight? Let’s remind them how important it is to you that your husband is careful and conscientiously being safe at all times.’
Immediately we saw a reduction in the severity and frequency of recordable incidents. We learned to approach the problem from the heartstrings and not just to the eyes and ears.”
The Emotional Buzz is a catalyst for internal motivation. It is what North is on a compass. When an individual has an Emotional Buzz attached to her or his everyday life, there is a clear attachment to behavior that is aligned with the outcomes sought.
First, establish the Emotional Buzz for your employees and you will have an easier time attaching behavioral change in a world-class safety culture.
Jim Hudson is a consummate safety leader who now focuses his attention on reopening safely. His expertise in building leadership confidence and operational profitability dive into tough questions like: If only 40% of customers are willing to shop and you're only allowed 50% capacity, how will you make money with a net of 20%?
As a Leadership Expert and consultant to companies dedicated to systems thinking driven by the creativity of your people, his client list reads like a Who's Who?
His company, SaferNation has a specific approach to a safe and profitable business:
If you’ve reopened a retail business or are in the process, you are staring down three different loaded risk barrels.
1. You’re trying to reopen profitably with occupancy limits & higher costs
2. You’ve got to provide your customers & employees with a safe in-store experience
3. You’re grappling with people’s interpretations of ‘the guidelines’ and enforced compliance
You have a ton of restrictions you never had (mask wearing customers/employees, distancing requirements & new cleaning guidelines). Figuring out how to do that is both costly & stressful (at least if you’re wanting to do it right).
Whether you’re all in for protection or you’re skeptical, pandemics are here and you’re either going to figure out how to operate when they hit, or you’re going to completely close down again.
And you’ve gotta figure out how to build trust with your customers, so that they gain confidence that you’re truly looking out for their safety. That is a big challenge and a lot of weight on your shoulders.
Most guidelines you get are all about “the what” - what's recommended and what needs to be done. None of them tells you how to do it, and none of them is nearly as comprehensive as they ought to be.
If you’re thinking you’ve already taken action and things are under control, consider that some folks will comply while others won't. Do you really want to be the one to force compliance here? Your employees sure didn’t sign up for that. It can be dangerous too, as actual “compliance related” shootings all around the country prove.
Our ReOpening Blitz allows you to meet the guidelines AND address your capacity needs so that you can still make money. By thoroughly addressing the issues of detection, prevention and protection, you’re able to get back to focusing on your business, as your excellent controls take care of the compliance issues. And even when the virus conditions are lifted, you’ll benefit from having employees who focus on faster customer interactions, while also delivering a better experience. When word gets out that you’re a safer business, you’ll see new customers that you didn’t have before the virus shut everything down.
(by Jim Hudson www.safernation.net)
Check out this Safety Leader to Safety Leader interview with Brenda DeBerry
Safety Leaders get your notebook handy.
• Texans NFL team-medic for 8 seasons
• Alaska as a captain’s apprentice,
• Fire fighter and EMT,
• and Safety Manager for 14 years as it began in 2006 with Saipem America
• currently with Scientific Drilling International
She has managed safety in aspects of:
- Upstream Oil & Gas from subsea ROV’s (submersibles),
- subsea construction,
- Inland Rigs, to
- Offshore Rigs,
- and Trainer for RigPass, First Aid & CPR,
- Forklift Operations, and many Safety programs.
Learn how "no more head shots with a Nerf Gun" to "waving a magic safety wand to get senior leaders to come into the safety workshops" are part of ensuring maximum safety impact.
Everybody's running around trying to do what the competition's not doing, especially when there's chaos. Here's how to have a competitive advantage.
Instead of trying to do what the competition's not doing, imagine your competition is the highest performers, that person that does what you do, and instead of doing what that person's not doing, try this. Do what the competition is not willing to do. What is that high performer not willing to do?
Typically, those are the things you're not willing to do either. The biggest advantage of virtual presentations is we're creating a dialogue, people communicating better. The biggest mistake is we're taking a bucket of content and dumping it on people's head and hoping that it sticks. The only way content is gonna stick is through an experience, and it's especially true with virtual presentations.
For you, I've created a virtual presentation for you that accomplishes three things.
First, that it's ENTERTAINING. The people are engaged in the story because of storytelling. This recreational skier to Olympian in four years is also the motivational piece.
The second piece, being MOTIVATED to move forward and to be inspired by someone else's story that draws them in to that experience.
The third piece is the CONTENT, the content that gets inside their head that's both innovative and counterintuitive. The people go, "Okay, that's a great idea. "Hadn't thought of it that way."
For example, use a gold dot is a trigger for your emotional buzz. I put them everywhere. On the back of my cell phone. On the odometer in my car. On the bathroom mirror. On my toothbrush. A gold dot triggers that emotional buzz of where you want to go.
When you have an emotional quotient attached to where you want to go, your people are going to get exceed their goals faster than you ever thought possible.
Listen, bring in a professional speaker. As an Olympian, a "New York Times" best-selling author, and Hall of Fame speaker, I'm able to take people on an unforgettable experience in a virtual presentation where they're engaged. It sticks for a lifetime. The best part of my virtual keynotes is they are interactive.
We had a comment the other day, the attendee said, "I felt like I was in the front row." Put your audience in the front row of this virtual presentation and given them an experience. We had zero people drop off the call. Zero. Zero people because they were entertained, educated, and motivated all at the same time.
Let's do those three things within your virtual presentation.
Vince: Hello everyone! We've got Rob McKee with us for our Safety Leader to Safety Leader conversation.
Rob McKee: Well, it's fun to have these discussions. We've known each other so long and we've had quite a few of these great discussions over time, so.
Vince: Yeah, so let's start with that. Rob you have had an experience of been, basically, allocated the responsibility of one of these very large oil companies, the drilling companies that you've worked with. And it was, you told me a fascinating story about the kinds of things that you had, tried to get everybody's attention, can you dive into that story a little bit?
Rob McKee: Sure, so well right off the bat I had two phases of sorta my involvement in safety. The first was sort of to look at the, manufacturing supply chain globally and then go to global safety, 'cause we saw the results that we did, but, it was very interesting in that transition from one to the other, when I was trying to really enlist, the participation of all the leaders and we had our big leadership meeting. I think there's probably, 200 people, 150, 200 people that came to this meeting, and it was our annual strategic meeting, in there I wanted to address safety and I wanted to kind of demonstrate our commitment to safety as a total leadership team and I think this is really where it starts in order to engage the staff. The leadership team really has to be involved and they have to really buy into the concept. So basically, what I did is they have these, small rubber rings that slide on your finger that said don't text and drive and I used this to sorta make a point and as we entered the meeting I handed these out to every single person in the beginning and asked them in order to, sorta, in order to demonstrate their support for safety around the company if they would just put these, on a finger on their right hand. And sorta the meeting was a one day meeting and about before lunchtime, basically, I stood up and I talked about I talked about safety and what we wanted to do with safety and the concept that zero recordable incidents is achievable. Which is something that people struggle a little bit with, because they consider some of it luck. And I said, "Just to demonstrate," and I was a little nervous about this whole concept but I said, "Just to demonstrate our commitment "as an overall team to the leadership and safety "would you guys raise your right hand and show me, "how many people have that ring on their hand," and I had actually told one other person that was in an equal position to myself, that I was gonna do this and not to--
- So he had his ring on .
- Yeah . And it was him and one or two other people in the room that still had that ring on. Only at lunch time so three, three and a 1/2 hour difference between the two. And it really demonstrated, hey we support the concept of safety but I'm not sure we're totally invested in safety and it was really a bit chilling to me. To see that, we talk a big game but ultimately I'm not really sure we're all completely invested in it. Really, really--
Vince: Is that from a leader stand point? Have you noticed that people kind of have this wait and see? See what corporate does? See what they do? See what they say? See what kind of policies they throw down the line? Is that what you see out in the field?
Rob McKee: Yeah, you see kind of both of them. People see safety, as yet another thing piled on their back. And so if they don't see that the leadership team is gonna continue to follow up in this, and it's truly gonna become a key performance indicator for the organization, you have a tendency to have what I would say is, kind of a big group of drop-outs. Okay, leadership doesn't believe in this concept wholeheartedly, they're not fully invested in this concept wholeheartedly, and therefore I don't necessarily need to be, because it's not gonna be something I'm judged on. So I would probably say, without a doubt, probably the majority of the staff if you don't see that commitment from leadership the majority of the staff really isn't all that committed to it.
Vince: So, you and I are both parents of, our kids are older than teenagers but I distinctly remember those years in the teenage years or being married for... I'm just thinking of my wife as well . It's if it's my idea it's not a great idea, but if it's their idea it's a great idea. So, I mean that's part of the human condition. Radical Safety, when I started Radical Safety I was starting from the neuro science of safety. Which was really, why do people do what they do? So what have you noticed in terms of being able to have people make it their idea rather than the leadership's idea?
Rob McKee: Well, it's funny. I kinda came in with the benefit of having too much to handle as a senior leader. You're handed all this, you've got, I've got supply chain, I've got logistics, I've got sustained engineering, I've got manufacturing floors in seven, eight, nine locations. You can't do it all at that point. You can't just put in a safety policy, a safety process that represents all of those places. It's a little beneficial in learning how to do this because it makes you step back and say how do we approach this problem. And I think very successfully we've backed off allowed the staff actually to define how they wanted us to address the problem independently. We asked them what the problem is, and say okay, you tell me what the problem is. Let's discuss what the solution is in your world, not me telling you from an outside world how to solve your problem. Tell me what the solution is in your world and then we'll help you solve that problem.
Vince: And that was new to them at that time? To have leadership say hey, what do you want? What do you think? What do you think we should do?
Rob McKee: Absolutely, it was very, very new. It was a very, very new concept. In fact, even to today many of the staff members don't know that we planted little acts to make sure that leadership was committed to solving their problem their way. For instance, we set-up areas where people shouldn't walk, or should walk, or should have certain PPE on. We then would, I would have a manager or even myself violate those rules and we'd have somebody planted to say something to them to make sure that they understood in front of everybody that leadership was committed no matter what level a person was violating that rule, our leadership was committed to correcting it. So, yeah.
Vince: Interesting. Was that isolated in one incident or two incidents? Or did you do that frequently in all the locations?
Rob McKee: We did it frequently but it got to be a little bit of a game between the management team and the executive team because I would tip them off I'd tip the executive team off before they would go out and visit a facility and say hey, "I'd really appreciate if you would, "do something that you weren't supposed to do so that, "so somebody can tell you, "how to do it in front of the staff," and so it kind of became a bit of a game. So I would be willing to bet you that we did it, probably 1/2 a dozen more times a month just really to get people that were, in all ranks of the company whether or not it was a janitor or somebody on the production floor. They began to get comfortable saying something, to everybody up to the CEO.
Vince: Now what about the incident rates and the methodology that's in place where they, could get penalized for reporting in small incidences? I don't wanna go through either the paperwork or I don't wanna get penalized for this incidence. So, how do you get around the system getting in the way of lowering incidence rates?
Rob McKee: So from, the way we approach it is, we didn't wanna be a reactive organization. So, granted we had people that reported incidence but typically we put the solution in the hands of the people who were reporting it. So, basically really it was just a write-up in one or two sentences on, what they did to correct the issue. Even if they didn't have the power to correct it in particular they would go, sort of a, whether or not it was to HR, or whoever it was and report the incident and just give a little bit of synapses. But what we attempted to do is, the front end of our meetings and we the industry sorta coined this as a safety moment. What I did was just say let's make this a safety discussion. Somebody in the room tell me about a process problem that we have that creates a bit of a safety incident and let's discuss what the solution might be to this. And so we turned in from something that was reactive to something that was happening, to sort of proactive trying to address the problem so that we're out there, that might cause a safety incident down the road. There was a lot of things like, contractor's coming on to the facility where inevitably they were violating our safety policies, they didn't know anything about them, so we could create something that helped them, understand what the requirement was when they came into the facility rather than scolding them when they were in the facility. And the incident rates, it changed pretty rapidly at that point where we had less things that were reported the more we talked about safety the less we saw safety incidents basically.
People began to think that way. Okay, I see a problem, let me solve this now instead of reacting to it later.
Vince: Now, I remember you saying that you were somewhat surprised at how effective this approach was. Can you talk a bit about the incident rates when you inherited this and how they went down? I remember you being somewhat surprised that it happened so fast. So talk a bit about how this can accelerate creating that they own the solution, they own the problem really, and they own the ability to communicate that up the line. So talk a bit about that.
Rob McKee: Yeah well, like I said there was two phases to this. Not only was I surprised the first time but I got to test it in sort of a new implementation and I was again surprised, you know? I almost doubted the fact that it happened like it did. But it was so gratifying when the fly wheel started turning by itself. So, like I said, we started talking to people in the facility, in these meetings, talking about specific things that we thought or that they thought could have turned into incidents and what we really found was, as began to do that, at the beginning of our meetings they began to do it in the beginning of their meetings 'cause they were proud to bring that up the line back to us and say hey, we had this great discussion. We came up with this, do you support? And generally the answer is, absolutely. They're pretty cost-conscious about it. It wasn't as if we were ever doing anything, that was all that expensive to solve. I mean occasionally you run into something, that was kinda ridiculous but very seldom did that happen. And it really instilled a sense of pride and a sense of ownership in the entire facility. You saw people keeping their areas much cleaner because they wanted to say, "Hey, we identified this problem, "we solved this problem, aren't you proud of us?" And certainly, we felt the same way and it really was, probably six or eight months into the time where we started having these meetings and these discussions and even casually you walk around the floor and you talk to somebody, and say, "Hey, what is your biggest concern?" and they started sorta gushing with creativity on how to solve a lot of these problems and I can't tell you how satisfying it is as a leader who is sorta tempted to implement a concept--
When you sorta go in vacation for two weeks and then come back and there's a huge improvement...
Vince: Without you there .
Rob McKee: What the heck happened? You kinda outran me, you know.
Vince: Well yeah really you take ego out of it, and things can really change.
Vince: I worked with a company very, very large retailer that was suffering in a big way. I won't say their name, but it rhymes with "beers." I remember working with them, and the leadership was off on one side and they weren't communicating to the frontline and I was brought in... I went well, the problem is you! And they didn't bring me back 'cause they didn't wanna hear that! They wanted to hear that they were, doing all and saying all the right things and then.
So talk a bit about the value of an outside perspective from a leaders standpoint coupling that with being able to have that insight perspective from, let's call it, from the frontline up. As a leader how do you strike that balance between that outside perspective? I mean I've worked with you in the past with various companies and Radical Safety being able to provide those outside perspectives isn't the only way but what do you see the value of the outside perspective and that inside perspective coupled together?
Rob McKee: Vince that's a really interesting question mostly because you're still putting the emphasis on the inside and outside. I think what really good leaders do is kinda of, go back to that fundamental that, The more people that are in the room, the smarter we are as a collective group, then we are as a small leadership team and so, if you can sorta jettison the thought process that oh, this is an outsider. And start thinking I can learn something from everybody. Whether or not it's a young kid, or whether or not it's a 30 year old seasoned veteran in the industry. I can learn something from everybody, and sometimes it's just simply the fresh idea that sorta changes your perspective a little bit. It's one of those things that, sometimes things click in the thought process. I related back, if you can think it, obviously I have a an athlete, top level athlete as a daughter. You were a top level athlete. You get in this, you can get I this rut of having student teacher and you're trying to solve the problem and solve the problem and you're focused on this so much to the point where you're, you've eliminating things that probably shouldn't have been eliminated and somebody comes in from the outside and you're always a little bit defensive about it. Going I've worked on this, you can't tell me, you're changing everything, give me sorta give me a break but in actual fact it tweaks one little thought and that little thought then gets integrated in what you're doing and you discuss it with your coach and okay, I understand this a little differently then I understood it before. It's maybe the same problem but it's a slightly different approach. As I coach my daughter for instance, sometimes, I would probably say, the majority of the time . I say something one way that makes complete sense to me. She interprets it completely different and she thinks, that's ridiculous I've been working on this forever but somebody else comes in, like her coach who we're careful about her coaches because I tend to have people who discuss things with her and don't tell her things, because just anybody else, you have this sense of private and it offends your space, and he says something, and she says, "Oh I understand that, I get that. "I really like that concept "I really wanna integrate that in," and I kind of throw my hands up and I'm going, I've been telling you this for three years. Why didn't you listen to me when I said it. And so a different perspective, no matter whether that's outside or inside can really be refreshing and help you think of that something a different way I think your concept of Radical Safety really helps bring that bit of perspective. You'll listen to it with sort of unrestricted ears and then you have the ability to give some feedback on that side. I think it's a really, really good concept.
Vince: Great, great. Well you know it's funny, I never intended this, to be the case but I find myself facilitating conversations when I go in as well. Not only can I take this olympic background and sure I've got some tools and techniques but sometimes it's planning the right questions and having them verbalize it, and if I hear you properly you're saying this, and then the leadership goes, oh, I didn't know that's what you were talking about. So, I mean again we come back to parenting, or whatever the communication, and it's really essential and that's the reason you agreed to come on this call and the reason we're doing this together is to communicate there are ways to reduce incident rates. If I could summarize, it's really being able to reach out and have them communicate the kind of solutions, that they're a part of the solution rather than being told and then calling people out that the ring on the finger, the safety ring having What, 197 people in the room go, wait I didn't think I had to be that committed. Commitment doesn't mean wait and see .
Rob McKee: Yeah and just to make sure you understand the magnitude of this. When I took over the manufacturing piece, the last company I was with, we were responsible for just over 50% maybe somewhere right around 60%, of the total recordable incidents in the entire company. Manufacturing space, heavy equipment, we had all sorts of carpal tunnel syndrome, ergonomic stuff that was going on. We were responsible for 50% of their recordable incidents what really, what really amazed me, when I started really working inside the organization itself, within 12 months we eliminated 100% of their recordable injuries, recordable incidents in manufacturing and reduced the total recordable incident rate within the company over 50% by ourselves, and then--
Vince: In 12 months?
Rob McKee: Over a 12 month period and then, I was passionate about the subject. I really enjoyed what we were doing and making a big difference and the CEO was nice enough to turn around and say hey, you seem to have the answers so why don't you take this piece and being excited about it. Very, I think very few people were all that excited about safety at times. It is this thing that feels like a burden but when you can make a profound change and profound difference in the company, you do gain, gain some excitement about it, and joining forces with the director of safety in a company, who already had a really cool plan. I mean he had a great educational plan to sort of identify all of these different areas and educate everybody in all the different areas, so they had the ability to dig into more than they just would in a general manufacturing facility and everything from driving, distracted driving to chemicals and all this kind of stuff. So we implemented the same concept around his 10 defined areas of safety Within the company. Over the next, it was probably 18 months we were reaching out to over 2,000 people, So, over 18 months we got it, continued down that road and we got it to only one recordable incident in the company after my time being with them, they ended up getting to zero. So it's even more satisfying to know they went on, it was me unplugging and the organization knew how to do this. So they were excited about it, and went to eliminate 100% of the recordable injuries over a 12 month period, it was really--
Vince: Well you know, it's fascinating that the our, the hidden meaning of this interview is for to safety leaders do whatever they can to make your job irrelevant .
Rob McKee: Absolutely.
Vince: The company is in business to be able to provide value and get a return on that investment of time and resources. And the more safety can play into that, the more the neurosciences safety, behavioral change shifting to performance change, changes the game. So, Rob, is there anything you want to close with? Anything we haven't covered yet or?
Rob McKee: Just to make a point. Safety is always kind of a slog, it feels like something nobody wants, on top of their normal job but the way we approached it, that it is part of our normal job, we just don't really focus on it, and it can be fun if you're seeing results and you're seeing people who normally don't have input into the system. They do a job they do everyday, over and over again. They don't ask for anything except for the things they need to do their job. Finally those people are given a voice and you can use that to give people a voice who never get a voice and they can see the difference they made beyond their chair, into the entire facility, or into the entire company if when they're given a voice. So don't underestimate how much fun it can be to watch someone take pride and say this is something I see in my facility that might be in all the facilities. The organization as a whole goes out and solves that problem and you can go and say, you know what, I know you believe that all you do here, is sit in that $18 an hour job. Assembling something all day, but take a look what you've just done. You've just affected the entire company and everybody across the company has had a positive effect because of an idea that you had and I think that's something most people don't think of. So, I think you'll look at safety I think you're very right in your terminology. It's a radical change that isn't difficult. Don't take radical as meaning difficult, it's not. It's just it's a complete change in paradigm of how you approach it. Is the way I see it, so.
Vince: Yeah, it was... We named the company after because we were thinking there's a lot of conventional wisdom, conventional behavior going on and I just went to the dictionary, I looked up the antonym to conventional. It was radical! I went, huh that's it! That's it. When one simple word, you can have people just, It's an inflection point in how they think and then the incident rates go down. I mean you can shock yourself, how quickly they go down, but how much you can actually reduce the incident rates to zero and then have the company doing what it's supposed to be doing and enjoying where you work as well so.
Rob, you're a prince of a man to be able to take time out of your day to jump on this call with us, and we're gonna broadcast this, to all the safety leaders we're in contact with and all our clients. We wish you the very best and good luck with your daughter and her golfing, I know that she's a heck of a golfer.
Rob McKee: Thank you very much, I appreciate that, and if you ever need my help with anything else or any, you wanna get together with me, and somebody who has questions about how to do this, I'm absolutely more than happy to help. I'd love to see this thought process used much more in the industry anyway.
Vince: All right, I'm putting you on speed dial . All right Rob, thanks again.
Rob McKee: No problem, thank you.
Vince: Take care.
Rob McKee: And you too.
Here are insights from Safety Leaders Helping Safety Leaders through these challenging times. Vince Poscente, Founder of Radical Safety interviews Davide Vassallo, CEO of DuPont Sustainable Solutions (25 min).
Interview Transcript: "Hello everyone, Vince Poscente here with Radical Safety and we have a special guest here today: Davide Vassallo, the CEO of DuPont Sustainable Solutions."
- And so Davide, welcome to the call here! We've got some COVID crisis going on here, we've got a very fluid thing and I wanted to get you online here with all of us and just talk a little bit about safety leaders, talking to safety leaders and getting a sense of the kinds of things we can do in this very fluid situation. So, I know with your background, with DuPont Sustainable Solutions as CEO, and also the background- I actually wrote a few things here. Seven years with Arthur D. Little, you were with the Italian Environmental Protection Agency as well, back in the day.
Obviously born in Italy, and I like to consider us paisans, because my dad was Italian, but my mom was Irish, so I told you before that means I'd be a great lover if I was ever sober. (laugh) So, let's have fun with this call. Then, you're a dad too! And you live in Philadelphia so, with that, I just wanted to get a sense of the kinds of things that DuPont Sustainable Solutions is doing right now and you as a leader to kind of, in this fluid situation, how are you communicating internally? How are you suggesting leaders communicate externally as well?
Davide: Thank you for the invitation. I really like this opportunity to exchange some thoughts and bring some ideas together. So how do we communicate in this moment? You know, DSS, as you rightly say, we are a global company. We have operations in 40 countries and more. So for us, being connected is the first priority, right? As a leader of this company, in the first days of the emergency, my main concern was, okay, how can I get connected? How can I make sure that the people are safe at home and they are connected? So, we are doing a lot of communication activities. One that I'm doing, and I think it's quite innovative as a leader, is, I just ran eight calls with eight people each call. Small meetings, randomly selected people in the organization. Just to ask them what was concerning them, and what are the reason of anxiety and their exasperation we have in this very unusual time. And believe me, it was fantastic. I mean, the amount of feedback and truly original sharing that happened in these small calls, was for me, a great value for the entire organization.
Vince: Now, when you reach out to people, and, I know the tendency as a leader of a company, even a small company like mine, but any safety leader, will say, okay, this is what we're going to do. But I'm finding people just want to be listened to and heard in this situation.
Davide: That's exactly my learning was out of this process. It's about listening. You know, the solutions are already there. The role of a leader in a crisis like this, is not telling people what to do; but listening what are the solutions and then selecting the priorities. Because, you know, if you have 1,000 people, probably you have 1,000 ideas. So you need to make sure that you pick the right one. And you align the organization. So, I'm going to listen as much as I can. From my organization, from my clients, from my competitors, from everybody because the solutions are already there. It's picking the right one that is the challenge.
Vince: From our original connection, we talked a bit about high-preforming sports and with my Olympic background with skiing, and yours with the international championships with rowing, obviously athletes can come to an equation maybe a bit differently. What can you share in terms of your athletic background and how that can serve you in safety leadership today?
Davide: Yeah, it's a great question, and I would talk for hours about this. I was a rower, back in the times, so, enjoying the rowing on lakes and rivers and sea. So, I mean the goal-setting is probably the biggest learning event I'm still applying today. Clear goals, clear direction, clear resourcing about what you want to achieve. So I think I'm well-known because I work by goal. Give me a goal, and I will make it, right? Don't give me a process. Give me a goal, and I will make it happen. But then it's about the discipline, you know, discipline or practicing every day. You have the sweating and sweating, you know, in the gym, on the boat, on the ski, or whatever you are practicing your activity. So in our company, we believe that discipline, it's important to achieve the goals that you are giving yourself. And then, there it is the most enjoyable part, which is the teamwork. You know, sport is about team. Even if you are a single player, you need a coach, you need an athletic support, you need your family around you. So, goal-setting, discipline, and teamwork are my takeaway from 20 years of rowing.
Vince: I was thinking at the same time, you know, it's funny, I've been very much a goal-oriented athlete, as well, in the corporate landscape. And, as I get older, I start to realize, I'm finding a balance between goal-setting and letting go at the same time. Being able to allow things to play out because if I get too locked in on one focus, I'm missing something on the outside as well.
Davide: So, that's a great point because as a sport, people, our goal was: okay, I need to perform, four years from now, into a world events. Could be the Olympics or something else. And you don't want to delay, right? You know, the results are coming if you stay focused. In business and in life, the flexibility to adapt is fundamental. I think of it, what we are learning with DSS and with many of our clients, that we see already the difference now, two months into the COVID-19 crisis, we see companies that are reacting much, much better because they have the flexibility and the speed to rearrange their plans faster than others. So, now the system is under pressure and you see winners and losers that are already going in different directions, it's unbelievable. It's really impressive, what you see in the market.
Vince: We're seeing a constant improvement in the lowering of incident rates thanks to artificial intelligence, AI, thanks to automation, and what's revealing itself more and more is the human error element with our clients, I'm finding that they're, the ones that are really winning are reaching out to their people and having them engage in the safety solutions. What are you noticing from the DSS standpoint, in terms of that human error piece? What's the missing link for you and the solutions you provide? You know, there was something that really jumped out at me: DSS helps their clients reduce risks and improve operations. Reducing risks, improving operations, that one commonality is the human error piece. What's going on there? What's your advice in terms of lowering incident rates from that standpoint?
Davide: Yeah, that's a fascinating topic. I think there are two sides of the answer here. So one side, we see the artificial intelligence has been designed around the machines. So we believe and we observe that what we need to do now is design around the individuals. Because at the end, it's them moving in the working environment. It's them taking the decision. It's them deciding to go right or left. So, we still are at the very early stages of enhancing the human capability to take better, smarter decision in the work field. So, and I'm sure you are aware, we created this technology platform called SafetyTech. And we collected more than 100 plus technologies that are people-centric, right? To help people in the execution. And you see they are a small subset of the big investment that are going on, the artificial intelligence smart technology. Because all the rest is going to support the machines and not the people. So this is one side that we need to make some progress there. The other side, as you said, is the two things, managing safety or reducing risk, and improving operations are hand-in-hand. You cannot have a smart safety system in a broken industrial environment. So if you are unproductive, you cannot be safe. You know, it's very contradiction that sometimes we tolerate because we don't want to go to the deep of the program. But the deeper the program is that, an engaged workforce is driving superior performance in production and safety. Not one of the two. But the core is engaged, capable workforce. That's of the two, for me are the two key elements. You need to have your workers engaged and capable to execute the task you give.
Vince: You know, that leads to the safety mindset and what brought me to DSS originally was the neuroscience of safety and, "The Ant and The Elephant", the book about the conscious and subconscious mind going in the same direction. And so, when it comes to the safety mindset, what are you seeing in terms of the neuroscience of safety and the advances that are being made in the safety landscape at this time?
Davide: The answer: I see a huge opportunity to improve. You know, we are at the very early stage of neuroscience applied on the workplace. We made progress, but still a lot of work to do. I share an example there, that I was discussing with the CEO of a large global organization recently. And we've known each other for many years, so we have a certain amount of, you know, good, personal relationship. So, he was telling me, "Davide, I'm concerned because I need to lay off thousands of people now, right? Which is sad, but in many places, is the reality of what is happening in these days. I'm concerned about the people remaining because the impact on the people remaining will be the motivation, will be anxiety, will be fear. So they will take away their eyes from the ball, right? From the focus on the task that they need to execute." So, he is a very aware safety and global leader. He said, "I'm expecting that I will have more incidents in the coming months because the people will get distracted." Because neuroscience is the connection between heart and minds, will be impacting by the consequence of the COVID-19 crisis and layoffs. So we had a long discussion about, okay, how can we avoid this problem? So, and the possible solution was we needed to re-motivate and refocus the workforce to focus on the better future versus this not-so-good present. So there is a process that we are starting to try to refocus the organization on the risk awareness, given the changing of context, new solutions related to technology. So he's investing more in safety. I think he is a great leader because on one side he has to reduce the workforce. On the other side, he's investing in the company to elevate the capability of the workforce.
Vince: Let me ask you a question, it's a dynamic that I keep seeing more and more and it is the budgets that are given to the safety elements, meaning, not just OSHA regulations or regulations, but the budgets that some of the safety professionals I'm working with end up not getting as much money as they need, yet there's a bottom line effect on incident rates and multiples and really, there's a huge cost to having incidents. So, what would you say to the leaders who are listening (mostly it's safety leaders that you're preaching to the choir on the one). But what kinds of ways can we get those budgets approved especially with today's shrinking amount of money that's available? What's the magic wand?
Davide: Look here, if I would have the magic wand, I would be sitting on some beach somewhere. But, I think I would be a bit controversial on this, Vince, I think that if we are asking about the budget, specific to the safety leaders, it's already wrong. Because it means that there is a certain amount of dollars allocated for safety performance. And it will never be enough because it's a kind of view the pocket money out of the kids to do their, you know spending. We need to target the money that is critical to the business. Money that's mission critical to the company. And usually this money is sitting in two buckets.
One, it is sitting in operations and business units because they need it to run operations. That's when we go back to reducing risk, improving operations together. So, the money for safety needs to be part of the operational budget and the COO or the business unit president who also may need to feel accountable to deliver both. For business performance and the safety performance.
Two, the other nice bucket of money that it's getting bigger and bigger to be invested in safety is sitting in the technology department under the CIO. So the CIOs now have this huge amount of resources to digitalize businesses and companies. So, the safety leaders, they need to stand up and say, "Look, I want to make sure that my safety project, that is impacting the safety performance of the organization, is paid out of our digital budget." And then, I know that sometimes we think that we should give more money to the safety leaders, my point of view is different. Let's give less money to the safety leaders and let's give more money to the others to spend on safety.
Vince: Well that's controversial indeed, but it's driving towards the solution and that's why you're saying it.
Davide: Yeah, and we need to follow the line, right? I learn moving in US, I learn follow the money. So where is the flow of the money? The money is produced through the line. So we have to make sure that safety is mainstream. The investment in safety is critical investment for the company. They need to be discussed in the board meeting. When a capital investment happens, the board members should ask, "Okay, tell me, this is "for the technology but is safest technology possible or is the cheapest?"
Vince: Excellent point. So I want to jump back because this accountability piece that we talked about briefly a little earlier, sometimes there are roadblocks I'm noticing with corporate safety protocol. For example, if I bring up this incident then I'm going to be penalized, or, there might be systems within the safety protocol that's actually limiting the amount of engagement and accountability. Now it's easy to point the finger at the manager, easy to point the finger at another person, but it seems to be a dysfunctional dynamic that's going on. From your point of view, and that of DSS, what kind of solutions do you suggest in order to increase that information flow back and forth to really ultimately drive those lower incident rates?
Davide: Wow, and that's a great question. At the end is the way the leaders are reacting to the information, right? You know one of the little coaching I do sometimes with other senior leaders in client organizations say, "Look, if you receive bad numbers, thank the person "that was bringing you the bad numbers." This is true for business, it's true for safety, but safety even more. Because you need to thank the manager that was putting together this data. You need to thank all the operators that were transparent to record the near misses. That, for me, is a continuing leadership behavior to recognize the effort to drive transparency and data collection. Because transparency and data collection will help the leader to take the right decisions. So, that is the recommendation. I agree with you that it's not happening, always, right? There are still some companies where people is feeling concerned about the sharing too many details about the safety performance because my boss wants to be good, and I was not able to make it good the month so I will try again next month. And that's not the right gauge, I think it's a risk it's putting a false sense of confidence, right? You feel at the top of the organization, look, the report is looking good, I should feel good. There is, I'm sure it happened to you, Vince, in your work and with your clients. You go in a board meeting, first month, second month, three months. And you see always good safety results. A good leader, after three months, should say, should ask "Okay guys, what is going on here?" If it's always good, we are missing something. That is the kind of question that can change the dialogue in a company.
Vince: Well, that's how we open this discussion is that by leading is listening, leading is getting out there and saying, okay, wait a minute, before we move onto this, why is that the case? Also, you mentioned something about a dynamic you're seeing from an event you put on in China.
Davide: Oh yeah, look, for me was a incredible eye-opener. China started the lockdown much earlier than anyone else. The last week of January, they were already at home. So was a great opportunity for us to organize our team and our operation in China. So, we designed our plan to go through the lockdown. And one of the activities that we agreed that was to promote more work knowledge and to share more work knowledge on the market free. You know, with no charges. But just for the opportunity to engage with clients. So the team in China organized a webinar, one hour webinar. Similar to few experts talking together about how to prepare, how to react, how to respond to this kind of emergency. To make sure that technology support was good enough, they called the telecom company. They said, "Look, can you assure us the webinar tool will work?" And the telecom company said, "Yeah, okay, we will take care of the technology and we will make sure there is enough bandwidth to allow a 1,000 people to connect." And then, they called an insurance company and they said, "Look, many of our clients are insured with you. Would you promote this webinar on your website?" Y
You know what happened, Vince? 371,000 people connected to the webinar for one hour. So we had more than a quarter of a million people connected to discuss about safety because the message went beyond the practitioner. So when the insurance company took the mailing list, they started to send this emails to people that usually aren't involved with safety. But the topic of "How should you prepare yourself and your company in a situation like COVID?" attracted people to the safety conversation. So my learning out of this is: if we repackage or if we are able to better explain the value of safety to any stakeholders, the audience will increase dramatically of an order of thousands, not an order of 10. You know, usually our webinar would have three to four hundred people connected. We have 371,000. We had 11,000 comments during the webinar. So, unbelievable numbers.
Vince: So, we're towards the end of our conversation here. I do want to acknowledge that I was brought originally to work with DSS, with your clients, and came to learn about the solutions you provide and the people you work with. I met a lot of very caring individuals at DSS, who have become friends even. AIong the way, I kept hearing this name, Davide. I started following your comments on LinkedIn and this is how this came about this interview. Your posts on LinkedIn have truly been enlightening. If anybody wants more information about the kinds of things that DSS is doing, and specifically with Davide and in terms of the kind of solutions his team is offering, LinkedIn would be the way to go.
As athletes know, if you approach in a competitive landscape with a conventional mindset, you're not going to do that well. You have to be radical in how you approach this, how you compete, and innovate, and be creative and curious. This is why I named out brand, Radical Safety. With that in mind, would you like to leave any kind of comments in terms of how we can be unconventional in how we approach safety moving forward?
Davide: Look, Vince, I think you are playing a great role in this. Because we need radical thinkers. We need diverse people in this world coming and telling us what we can do better. So, our partnership started one year ago with the event you helped us, but we'll continue because we need people like you that has a different point of view in the safety space. We'll challenge all the assumptions of the industry. So that's what is needed, and then what I want to say in this moment, to close it from my side, it's really, I hope that we can advantage of this crisis to elevate our awareness and commitment to greater good. Could be around safety, could be around environmental. Should be both, and more. I'm reminded of Winston Churchill's comment, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." We need to make sure the learnings of these days are institutionalized somehow into the future of our companies because that will help a lot. You know, COVID is telling us, guys you are not safe. You need to think smarter, you need to think harder because you are not thinking enough, you are not even aware what could happen to you next week. So, that's a big wake up call, right?
Vince: Yeah, yeah, it gets our attention. And that's the human condition, right? People get it in a crisis. I think there's a quote by John F. Kennedy, "The best time to fix a leaky roof is when the sun is shining," right?
Vince: 2015, the sun is shining, Bill Gates gets up there on the TED stage, and says, "Hey, you know what? The big thing that could really hurt us is a global pandemic. But the sun was shining. So who cares?" It turns out we might care, but, not at that time. It's not raining. Now's our chance to fix that leaky roof and be safer. Let's move forward and care for each other. And that's why you're on this call. On behalf of all our listeners and audience members, we appreciate your time. I wish you the very best spending time with your family, obviously that's a very important part of this, maybe the upside to it, is we get more family time. But man, I'm sure ready to go work out there in the real world, so, thank you for your time.
Davide: Great, thank you, Vince, take care.
Hey COVID campers.
I don't know about you but I get in this state where I’ve got to work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work.
I'm taking a break right now but you know what? I also am a big advocate of putting stuff on the calendar and one of the things I put on the calendar today, in fact I'm going to do it next, is to go for a bike ride Whatever kind of exercise, put it specifically on your calendar.
Even though it seems kind of lame because you're at home, what are you going to put on the calendar? It helps you to define the kinds of things you can do for yourself. Not just the calls you need to keep up with and the work you need to keep up with. But also the self-serving stuff. Make sure you put stuff on the calendar is key to making this all work.
We’ve got this. Take care.