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Hey it’s Andrew here from safetyontap.com
This episode is part of my 2017 end of year challenge – I’m committing to give you two weeks solid of advice, reflections and actions for you to maximise what you learn from 2017, and unleash your greater potential in 2018. I’m sharing one episode every single day for the two weeks leading up to Christmas, so check out the other episodes numbers 55 through 65.
There is no particular order, each one of these will be great on it’s own, but listening to more will give you much greater value. If you are listening to this at any other time of the year, have no fear! – the best time for you to take action on this is always right now!
In today’s episode I want you to look up, and out to be more effective. Download the free transcript of this episode PLUS a worksheet to help you take action from this episode right from this page, just below the audio player.
The other day someone described health and safety professionals as cardigan wearing pipe smokers. And by pipe I assume he meant an old style tobacco pipe, not the other kind of pipe.
And I’ve lost count of the number of people who avoid telling people in social situations that they work in health and safety.
The irony is that many of us will identify with these, that others do not see us in the most positive light….and yet oftentimes we continue almost blissfully to do the same health and safety stuff that we were taught at university, the same stuff our boss did and that we’ve always done.
And we’re quietly proud of the purpose our work has, the high morality of such important work, and we continue the way we always have inside the Echo chamber of our own awesomeness. Until we have to go to a BBQ that is, that’s when the reality of that outside perspective kicks in.
When you look up and out from your comfortable, default thinking and default practice, you’ll see that there is an astonishing array of ideas and perspectives that can help you achieve health and safety as an outcome, rather than the default things like audits and training and systems which we obsess over. And I believe that to future-proof our roles supporting health and safety outcomes, we need to look up and out for a broader worldview, develop different skills and adopt new approaches.
In the past year, I’ve really intentionally looked up and outside traditional health and safety to find and experiment with different ideas and practices. Here’s a couple of examples:
– Human Centred Design. This is a loosely described approach to designing things, and has been made most popular by organisations like IDEO.org who use HCD for poverty related challenges. I’ve drawn on their toolkit of approaches to help me define problems, to seek input from the people affected and to co-design solutions.
What I love about this is that the context is better design, versus risk management which is stopping things going wrong. It changes the way people think about problems and solutions and the way they engage everyone affected.
– Sales and marketing. Now I run a business, so sales and marketing are a part of what I need to do to feed my kids. But I’ve learned plenty from these fields which I apply in my health and Safety work. Things like conversion psychology, split-testing options, copywriting with the aim of moving people to action…I mean ultimately we are trying to market an idea to people aren’t we? We’re trying to sell them on the benefits of taking action, right?
– Permaculture. This one is quite left field. I have a passion for food and food systems, I’ve an avid gardener and we raise a lot of our own meat. Permaculture is another design system which seeks to create permanent and regenerative agricultural and social systems, not the destructive ones so prevalent today. It is guided by principles like care for earth and care for people, it encourages deep observation to get an understanding of natural systems before making any changes, it encourages us to mimic nature with our solutions, including things like disorder, cycles, and symbiosis. I’ve spent a lot more time listening, observing, reflecting than I ever have, and much of that I’ve drawn from permaculture.
– action learning action research. Regular listeners know that I’m a bit obsessed with learning which improves performance. I’ve also been troubled this past year reflecting on evidence based practice. I don’t feel like I do enough of it, nor it seems many of us do. Partly because of the way we work, and partly because there isn’t a lot of great evidence for what we do. I’ve discovered action learning action research is an approach to generating learning on the fly, through everyday life, and doing this with enough intent and planning that we can generate reliable evidence from it. I’ve started to apply this in the work I do so it gets better as time goes on, but more importantly I’m contributing to the evidence base about what works and what doesn’t. This is particularly appealing to me because it’s well suited to practical people, it doesn’t require a PhD to do this stuff.
Lots of standard health and safety practice is fine, necessary, and often effective. But looking up and outside of this gives you a different perspective, new ideas, and will help to strengthen your daily health and safety practice.
You’ll find that the lines start to blur, that health and Safety isn’t this thing inside this nice neat well defined box. So you will be stretched and challenged to understand more deeply the context in which health and safety happens, which is the work context, the economic or commercial context, the social context, the political and societal context.
When you draw inspiration and change your practice as a result of looking up and out, not only will you improve, and health and safety outcomes, but a bunch of other things as well.
With your broadened horizons, open mind and less conventional approach, new opportunities and relationships will start to drop into your lap, which can take you career down an interesting windy path or help it to rocket towards your career goals.
So time to reflect. How much of what you do, and learn and practice, comes from inside traditional health and safety practice? What kinds of things outside of that have caught your attention? What non-health and safety things could you try and use to enhance your health and safety practice? Grab your free worksheet to get started on these questions, as well as the transcript of this episode just below the audio player above.
I guarantee that looking up and out will help you positive, effective and rewarding action to grow yourself, and drastically improve health and safety along the way. Seeya!