There’s a saying, some say is African, some say is not, that apparently goes like this: if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
I’m sure many of us who support better health and safety can identify with this. I for sure know I’ve done my fair share of questionable work, which rushes or totally ignores proper engagement with stakeholders – creating ‘things’, like systems, training, reports – which are designed to meet some important but arbitrary deadline, which has little to do with actual health and safety outcomes. We have an audit coming up, or a tender due, or a big customer coming to visit, or an Inspector on our doorstep.
Mostly, I’ve felt guilty, I’ve felt indignant, I’ve felt embarrassed when I go-it-alone like that. I try and explain my faults with the need for speed.
Then there are those things I’ve worked on that were truly a collective effort, the symbol of progress together with others. These are the things that take longer, feel painful, require sweat, tears, and plenty of patience. And I’ve created masterpieces, I’ve created truly sustainable outcomes, that survive well beyond just the ‘things that we created. I’ve found the greatest reward of my work comes from going together, and I work very hard to minimise the need for going fast, for anything.
On reflection, my simple take-away is this: there is no right or wrong way. Just be very clear when you need to go fast, and when you need to go far, and what you trade off with each. There is a time and place for both, just decide if you are going alone, or going together, with your eyes wide open.
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