Have any of you eaten Kentucky Fried Chicken before? Yeah that was in the past, wasn’t it! My old KFC days….There was a kind of perfect coincidence that happened in my life a long time ago, when I had enough pocket money to decide what to spend it on, enough freedom to go and do that, and KFC launched the Tower Burger in Australia. So I hopped on my bike to go and get one. In fact, I got the meal, so good was their advertising.
That thing seemed like an absolute monster at the time and very well suited to my cashed up, pre-teen appetite. I couldn’t find an advert from back then, but this is close. Imagine the picture of this meal, but the advert which I saw, and couldn’t honestly believe that they could create a burger as tall as a can of soft drink, but I had even more excitable skepticism about how I would fit this thing into my mouth!
Hey, it’s Andrew, and this is Safety on Tap.
Since you’re listening in, you must be a leader wanting to grow yourself and drastically improve health and safety along the way. Welcome to you, you’re in the right place. If this is your first time listening in, thanks for joining us and well done for trying something different to improve! And of course, welcome back to all of you wonderful regular listeners.
I’m shaking things up again this episode, another kooky idea of mine. I love getting out and about amongst people, whether that be in workshops, team sessions, coaching or conferences. When it comes to conferences, I’m getting more and more, umm, insistent about my views about what a good event looks, sounds and feels like. What I mean, is that there is no shortage of information out there. Regular listeners will have heard me say that many times. So paying lots of money to sit in a room, to listen to live, real-time content delivery, isn’t bad, it’s just not optimized for this day and age. So when I’m invited to contribute to a conference or event, I tend to prefer, and try to influence, interactive sessions like panel discussions, roundtables, facilitates activities – where you can tap into way more social and experiential learning.
Having said that, I still do the odd keynote presentation, but it is never without some form of interaction. So it’s kind of ironic that in this episode, I’m giving you a presentation which I delivered in 2018 at the National Safety Convention here in Australia. I recorded the presentation, which you heard at the beginning, but the sound quality isn’t great, and the interactive parts of the talk don’t lend themselves to a podcast, so it needs a little adaption.
I had great feedback on the content, so I hope it’s helpful. But in the spirit of interaction, I encourage you to pause and reflect when I prompt you. I encourage you to post a comment over at safetyontap.com/ep105 and let’s discuss! I encourage you to share this with someone who you think might benefit. But most of all I encourage you to have a real conversation with someone close to you, to reflect and share and challenge and make sense of the ideas you hear in this episode.
The other important thing you need to know is that this session was designed for delivering in-person, which includes how the visuals I used to fit with the words I say. So, I’ve also recorded this with those visuals so you can see what I mean, and well as hear what I say. This is another learning hack to help improve how your brain takes this all in. Head over to safetyontap.com/ep105 if you want the video version to capture all that goodness.
Here’s Nineteen non-Health and Safety Things to improve Health and Safety, picking up my Kentucky Fried Chicken story….
So we’re here in Kentucky Fried Chicken you can imagine my disdain when I received my ordered Tower burger, along with drink and chips, to find that it was about half the size of that can of drink. I asked them where the tower bit of the tower burger was. The cashier who was only a bit older than me didn’t get it. I was so disappointed that their advertising hadn’t delivered on the promise, that I took one of those little pencils and a feedback form, back in the day when mega-companies actually invited unprompted customer feedback and told them what I thought. It was years before I stepped back into a KFC.
Isn’t it a good idea that we deliver what’s on the label, that we deliver on our promise? When I saw that the theme of this conference was National Safety Convention the byline is In Practice, that was what I thought I should deliver. So we’re going to spend the next little while engaging on a few ideas about non-health and safety practices to help you improve your day to day work practice. Is that ok?
So that’s our first practice, which comes from the world of advertising: to keep your customers happy and coming back to you, deliver what’s on your label, deliver to them what you promise you will.
How long is a TED talk? How long is this presentation? Who knows why TED talks are 18 minutes long?
There are no 18-minute slots in this conference, which I find a bit curious. Have you ever been in a situation when you get an opportunity to be in front of the people you want to help, and then have to work out what you’re going to do with that time?
Did I use to be like a gas – anyone study physics here? What’s one of the properties of a gas in a container? It fills it up! How often do we just fill up the time we have, instead of being really intentional about that time, and most importantly, remembering that we can probably only hold people’s attention for 18 minutes at best?
So don’t talk for more than 18 minutes. Ever. Is that the takeaway? Probably not. The context of TED talks is live audience engagement, and online video watching – but both are passive one-way information transfer experiences, right? The other practical matter that the current owner of TED talks Chris Anderson thought it was a good idea to have a piece of content someone could digest during their lunch break at work. Makes sense.
Bearing all that in mind, I have a 40-something minute slot, the time doesn’t matter because we know its about twice what we can expect people to pay attention to IF I was just going to do a one way information download, AND assuming I behave like a gas (possible slightly odd smelling) which by default expands to fill the container we’re all sitting in. You’ve probably guessed I won’t be doing either of those things, so by way of explanation and our second practice learned from the world of cognitive science and TED talks, Don’t talk more more than 18 minutes at a go, or, if you choose to go longer, break it up into chunks less than 18 minutes.
HOW should we break it up you ask? I’ll get to that in a second. Before I do, coming back to deliver what’s on the label, I said I would cover 19 practices didn’t I. So you’d expect me to deliver 19 things, right? Well, I had a bit of a conundrum. When I was asked to speak here today, I only knew one thing – they had a speaker who pulled out and wanted to know if I could speak. I said yes. They asked me for a topic, which is the one on your program. Why nineteen you might be thinking? Because I didn’t have much time to come up with a topic, so I pulled it out of thin air, thinking it was a good balance between not too few to be woffly, not too many to be too brief, and memorable because it wasn’t a round number. After the programs were printed, I did the maths and worked out that 19 things in 40ish minutes was about 2 minutes per thing….and that seemed a little cheap, I mean, too light, too brief, like going to a restaurant for tasting plates or tapas and then still wanting dirty late night Maccas afterward.
So here’s the thing. When all is said and done, no one gives a shit whether there was 5 or fifty things Andrew Barrett shared. Its kind of the same thing with, well, everything. Has anyone heard the drill bit analogy? Ok, I’ll tell you, if you know the ending shoot your hand up and you can finish it for me. Lots of people think Bunnings sells drill bits, you know the curly thing you put into a drill. Does anyone really want a drill bit? This is a picture of one of my drill bit cases. When you do think I notice that I don’t have a 4.5mm drill bit and I need a 4.5mm drill bit? WHEN I NEED A 4.5mm HOLE. I don’t care about the drill bit, I care about the hole! Your hardware store doesn’t sell drill bits, they sell holes of all sorts of diameters in all sorts of materials.
We engage with something when it makes out life better – when it gives us some benefit, like a neatly drilled 4.5mm hole. We want the benefit, yet most of the time the people who can help us with this whole conundrum of ours, focus on features. This is a carbon tungsten tip. This has a 17degree twist for clearing sawdust quicker. This reporting software gives management up to 196 different metrics to look at! This workstation ergonomic assessment is only 5 questions and gives you a written report. These are all features, and when we get obsessed about features, we lose sight of the benefit we are trying to deliver. So, what does drill bits have to do with this talk, and how do I avoid looking like a hypocrite by not delivering what I promised? I thought sharing a few less practices but with a bit more meat on them would give you greater benefit than delivering on the promise of 19 things….which is really just a feature of this talk. Are you ok if we do it that way? If not, let me know and I will give you the balance of the 19 some other time, just send me an email and I will give it to you if you really want.
So practice number three, thanks to the world of marketing, is focused on whatever the benefits are, that you can deliver to the people you serve, before obsessing over the features of whatever idea or service or solution you are offering. How will this make their life better? Benefits before features.
So let’s pause for a moment after our first three non-health and safety practices to help your health and safety practice:
Deliver what you promise
Be brief, or at least design a better communication experience if you aren’t going to be brief
Focus on benefits before features
OK so let’s take 4 minutes to talk to the person next to you. There are two questions I want you to discuss, sharing the talking and the listening. First, which of those three practices resonates with you the most? I don’t want you to think about that too long, just use your gut and pick one. The second question needs some analogue skills. I want you both to think of an example of the practice you picked. Write on your note pad this line. At one end we have Did it poorly, a lesson for change, and the other end Did it amazing, a lesson to replicate/amplify. Decide where on this line your specific example fits, and talk with your neighbour about why you picked that example, and what lessons you can share.
So let’s come back to how to break up your communication in a way that holds your audience’s engagement. How do you think we can do that?
By involving your audience in the experience, to reset their energy and attention.
OK, so there are two very important models of success for career and life that no one ever gets taught, which changes today. Would you like to know what they are? Good, it would really stuff up my presentation if you said no.
Performance is an iterative outcome of a cycle of learning and action. Learn, act, learn, act. Humans are amazing at doing this, and terrible at the same time. Performance, which is an output of his cycle, can be good or bad, it doesn’t matter, as long as the cycle continues. Over time you get more good and less bad, and you move towards high performance. Performance can mean you becoming a more effective safety professional, or the people in your organization working safely and creating successful, meaningful work. So if that’s performance, what is learning? Actually, that’s probably to abstract a question. How about this.
Who is sitting next to a person they work with? Who is sitting next to a person they have worked with previously? Who is sitting next to a person they knew before today? And who is sitting next to a complete stranger?
Okey Doke so let’s move around, I want you to stand up, and go and find a stranger, introduce yourselves, and sit down next to each other.
Spend 2 minutes with the person next to you, and share with them if you are comfortable, the most impactful lesson of your entire life. One minute for each of you.
Can someone share their lesson?
OK, so what are the common defining features of those lessons?
Contemporary learning and development understand that learning comes from three main sources, types of learning if you will. They are represented by these three circles, the size of the circle indicating conceptually the amount of learning we get from them. What do you think each circle represents, the source of a type of learning?
Some people call this the 702010 model, meaning about 70% of learning comes from experience, 20% from social sources, and only 10% from information.
How do you think that I’ve incorporated these elements into what I’ve done so far in…X minutes?
I want to focus on the 90% of this model right now because God knows we are obsessed enough with learning by gathering information. The experiential learning bit is enabled through new experiences and reflection – stopping to consciously ask how it is going, what’s working and not, what’s surprising, what makes sense and what is new or confusing – we all do this a little bit unconsciously, but we can accelerate learning if we do it more consciously. Socially, it’s all about creating new connections and tapping into the ones you already have – your boss, your team, people inside your organization and beyond, a coach or mentor, your mum or dad or sibling or partner. People are a rich source of learning.
Now I should say, don’t just copy me and what I’m doing today – after all, I’m working with what I’ve got regarding the time, the title, the environment we are in….its a pretty weak demonstration. So practice number 4 is about performance – if you want to improve performance in yourself or others, design clever learning which improves performance. Everything you do should have learning and performance in mind, and you should be building in and drawing upon elements of experiential, social, and informational learning in those rough proportions.
One of the most significant pieces of research in our lifetime has literally broken open one of the greatest secrets in the mindset of human performance. This research was undertaken over many years including kids from school into work life and asked the question – what makes some people succeed and others not? They were obviously interested in a range of things, the sorts of stuff we normally might think affects success. Socioeconomic status, education, physical and mental ability, ethnic background, emotional state, a variety of health aspects, the list goes on.
What this research found was that success boiled down to just a few things which separated the winners from the victims of life and of circumstance. What’s mind-blowing is that this is almost entirely independent of all those other factors we usually associate with success.
And of these success factors they did identify, the most powerful comes down to a single word that successful people use, and others do not. That word is YET. I can’t get these managers to take safety seriously. YET. I haven’t managed to arrange some quality time with General Manager. YET. I don’t have the kind of relationship with the operations team to effectively influence their budget spend. YET. Carol Dweck led the team of researchers. She coined the terms to describe people who don’t use YET, and those who do. Having a fixed mindset versus having a growth mindset. Three letters can be all the difference between a balanced, striving, and effective career, and an anxious, apathetic and average career. So practice number 5 is to encourage in yourself and others a growth mindset, and if you don’t check out Carol Dweck’s work on this, at the very least, start using that tiny, powerful word YET.
Has anyone here heard of Google Glass? Can you please tell everyone what it is very briefly Ok, so this is a very new and different type of technology, literally as different to a smartphone as a smartphone is to your old home phone. Have a guess how long it took this team of engineers to create a prototype of the Google Glass product?
One day. Not a year, not months, not days, they created it in one day. And this is what it looked like. They took some wire, a micro-projector, some perspex, connected it to a computer and put it on their head. Not very sexy you say? Maybe that’s why as a product it didn’t take off like a success rocket? The point is this was their first prototype, the literal first creation of one aspect of their idea, into the physical world.
All of us have ideas that seem too crazy to ever work. But we all have ideas that might be crazy enough to work really well. The gap between an idea and a reality is not represented by the final product, it’s the first, smallest, cheapest and simplest prototype you can create. That doesn’t have to be a physical product, although they work really well. It can also be digital – if you want a better interface for your online safety database or whatever, get a piece of paper and draw what you want it to look like, and you have your first prototype. Far too often we don’t achieve improvement because we never get started on a good idea, because it seems too hard, too. Practice Number 6, from Google Glass, is to prototype ideas into reality. Google glass became a reality in a single day, imagine what you can embark on.
My last real job, before I became a business owner and entrepreneur, was as a result of a restructure. I was in a national role at NBN, helping build the largest infrastructure project in Australia’s history. My original role had been split up across a few roles, and the GM at the time said where do you want to go? Interesting because that’s a very different question to where did I need to go, in terms of the business needs. Long story short I ended up in a lone wolf role leading the entire safety and environment in design strategy for the entire NBN. The irony was that they created this job in large part because of all the influence I had in the years prior when there was no adequate resourcing or strategy for the safe design of the NBN, which was kinda ironic given we were 5 years into the thing at that stage.
I told the GM that I gave myself 12 months to get this sorted out and ready for a BAU succession, then I would be out of there. But by then, I had already figured out how I was going to tackle this mammoth challenge. Given nbn is basically a design, construct, operate a business, plus all the support functions, I had to influence the direction of roughly a quarter of the business, with a team of one. My plan was what Chip and Dan Heath from their book SWITCH call ‘finding the bright spots’. I didn’t have time to implement the usual, complicated safety approach to this – I needed fast results. So I looked for the bright spots, the people, practices, and results which were already good, in order to study them. Of all the things that I could have pushed as ‘good’ health and safety, some compliance assessment or gap analysis, a new process or procedure, some education or training, the single biggest factor in great design outcomes was a personal relationship between the engineers and the operations people – not just familiar, a good relationship. I can explain why I thought that was the case if you would like over a cuppa, but the important bit was it was a bright spot. So apart from all the nitty-gritty things I did, encouraging and enhancing the good relationship between the engineers and operations people became one fo my top priorities – I facilitated introductions, I arranged social catch ups, I helped find things of common interest or background. Because if that was a strong relationship, we had better design outcomes. So non-health and safety practice number 7 thanks to changing leadership research, is to drive successful change, find the bright spots, and replicate those.
One of my kids broke her collarbone recently, jumping off a bed onto a wooden floor. It must be genetic because at about the same age I jumped off a playground bridge and broke my collarbone.
Anyway, I realized that the first question we asked her, was exactly the same question that the doctor asked her. She wasn’t particularly chatty by the time she got to the hospital, so didn’t have an answer for the doctor, but did tell us.
Do you know what that question was?
Where does it hurt?
In other words, where is the pain?
For decades this question has been one of the most frequent uttered by both doctors, and by marketing professionals. Where is the pain, where does it hurt?
Now modern-day marketing has evolved from the less than illustrious salespeople of yesteryear, namely because the response to the question where is your pain, usually results in the same product or solution being presented regardless of the pain. Oh, actually that is how many consultants, especially in the culture change space still work. How awkward for them.
If we are starting fresh, in a new job, a new leader at work, a new boss, a new site, whatever it is, practice number 8 we can learn from our esteemed medical colleagues and good marketing practice, is that it’s always a good idea to start with understanding their pain, which makes diagnosis and prescription much easier, and not surprisingly the people we are trying to help are likely to be far happier when they feel like they have been heard.
This was a really visual presentation so I invite you to check out the video which has all the rich imagery which will make your listening experience even better.
Thanks to Td99210 for the five-star iTunes review. Entitled ‘future focus’, they said ‘thank you for always bringing inspiring, innovative and future focussed presenters. They challenge and motivate me to be the type of safety professional that has impact….that actually makes a difference. Bravo!!’. Thank you Td99210, you embody my mission beautifully. I love hearing from you, and reviews help other people find the podcast. Why not jump onto iTunes and let me know what you think?
This was an episode full of tips, so no additional takeaways required from me. Thanks so much for listening. Until next time, what’s the one thing you’ll do to take positive, effective or rewarding action, to grow yourself, and drastically improve health and safety along the way? Seeya!
Here’s your FREE reflection worksheet from this episode.
And here’s your FREE download of the full transcript of this episode.
Feel free to share this with your team/colleagues!