Dec 18, 2018
On the golf course yesterday, I gave some thought to what may be the single biggest obstacle with our work at JMJ, and even more so for our clients taking on our work.
What I postulated is this: the biggest obstacle towards achieving large project or organizational goals like the creation of an Incident and Injury-Free® (IIF®) safety culture is "distraction."
We get distracted by many, many things. Many of these distractions lead to poorly functioning teams and people continuing to get hurt and killed due to the job. I think that seeing the roots of distraction is key for our clients to experience the transformation they seek.
In my early career, I served in the military. From my military thought process, I see distraction as war or battle fronts. At a very basic level, distraction invades the individual in three ways: through our "appetites", our "affections", and our "agendas."
By appetites, I mean what we desire and really, really want. In order for a want to be fully acted upon, it must be viewed as a need. When something is just a want, we may or may not engage fully to make those things happen. A “want” not being a “need” can be a distraction.
However, if we view something as a need, we often give our dead level best to "make it happen."
For example, my first job out of high school was selling knives. One thing I was taught was that in sales, if the person views my product as a need-to-have versus a simple want, I have a very high likelihood of making the sale.
I see this distraction come up in the creation of an IIF safety culture. Everyone 'wants' an IIF environment, but do they view it as a need?
Our affections can also serve as distractions. Those things that we deem "good enough" or that are satisfactory to us can sometimes distract from achieving greater results.
JMJ suggested that perhaps there was a bigger opportunity here. Rather than just reinforcing the rules, what might provide a better overall outcome?
If a Total Recordable Incidence Rate (TRIR) of 1.2 is the performance the client likes, then that's what people will strive toward. A 1.2 rate means people were hurt at a serious degree, yet that rate satisfies the performance deemed “good enough” by someone.
Finally, agendas can be a distraction. It's clear to me that when we substitute our purpose with our pre-existing agendas, we lose (or at least sacrifice) intentionality.
I saw this often in the military. The agenda, whether personal or organizational, can easily dominate the purpose, especially in the short term. Without a clearly scoped purpose, we lose sight of the “whys,” or the reasons for which we are taking action. Through our agendas, we manipulate the “whats” and “hows.”
To me, agendas are the most common and the easiest to conquer distraction I have experienced in my career.