• Peter Bateman
    81
    In the current edition of Safeguard magazine Craig Marriott suggests every H&S team needs a coherent strategy.

    In your experience, which is harder: finding the time to think strategically amid the day-to-day rush, or convincing others that your strategy is worth pursuing?

    You can respond in public here on the Forum, or privately here via a Survey Monkey form.

    An edited selection of responses will be published in the Nov/Dec edition, but with no names attached. One randomly selected person will receive a prize, namely a copy of the recently revised and reissued edition of Andrea Needham's classic book on workplace bullying.
  • Michael Wilson
    43
    Having recently undertaken this the hardest part was deciding which things you will push out for a year or two. Health & Safety people are problem solvers and hate postponing actions.
  • Lee Keighley
    12
    I believe both are difficult. Convincing senior management that a health strategy is worth pursuing is my major issue at present. I've introduced a idea about men's health as Movember is fast approaching and thought this would be a good opportunity to promote a health strategy. Why was a major question closely followed by where to start.
  • Matt Sadgrove
    17
    I think finding the time to think strategically is essential and part of a solution to get out of the reactionary cycle. A strategy is absolutely part of your WHY and needs to be a separate focus before the business folds it in as just park of what work is. It is hard but the juice is worth the squeeze!
  • Rob McAulay
    16
    I agree with the opinions expressed so far and would add that if H&S is not be left as an "add on" we need to have a H&S Strategy that looks at how H&S contributes to the wider goals of the organization, from this strategy a number of strategic H&S objectives can be developed and these in turn will inform the H&S Goals required for the annual H&S Plan which becomes the work plan of the H&S "Team".
    I believe the strategy has to be longer term, 3-5 years, to enable goals to be set and achieved.
    It is not easy but makes reporting and identification of gaps a lot simpler and everyone knows where you are going, however the strategy must be agreed and signed at Board and Exec Leadership level to enable it to become part of the overall business strategy.
  • Sheri Greenwell
    89
    From the management perspective, various analysis tools can be very useful for making a business case, which is the approach most board members would be most receptive to.

    Useful tools include ROI analysis, SWOT analysis, Cartesian Coordinates, using input from relevant stakeholder groups, summarising for board members and senior managers, and supporting your position with structured analysis. Then walk them through step by step.
  • Sheri Greenwell
    89
    Few senior managers, including CEOs have a good grasp of vision and strategy themselves - most typically rely on some iteration of the past and largely theoretical and 'textbook' vision statements that fail to inspire because they have no concrete foundations. I have worked with a number of organisations for which this is the case, and I have read about many more.

    I recall some years ago reading an article in NZ's Management Magazine, in which the publication interviewed 6 of the country's most prominent CEOs. What struck me most was that 5 out of 6 of those CEOs had no role model to inspire them, and their 'vision' was largely a re-hashing of past performance. The one CEO who had a role model and had a genuinely future-facing and inspiring vision is the only one of those 6 we still recognise today - Stephen Tindall. I heard him speak at a conference in 2002 and came away inspired and energised enough to track down and read some of the books that had inspired him to implement Triple Bottom Line reporting at The Warehouse Group and to push back on suppliers to reduce packaging so TWG would not have to pay to have waste packaging disposed of, and so New Zealand would not have to cope with massive amounts of incoming waste. His vision and determination were inspiring, as was his ability to initiate integrated and meaningful solutions.

    Just because people achieve senior / executive manager status does not mean they automatically master leadership skills such as vision and strategy. Management skills are distinctly different from leadership skills; they are complementary and both are vitally important. The English language (and possibly other languages, too) does not have a single word that encompasses them both, and all too often people use them interchangeably.
  • Rob Carroll
    9
    Surely the Strategy has to be detached from the day to day actions to achieve it? These are 2 very different aspects. The strategy is the "what" (i.e. what H&S will look like in the organisation) and the actions are the "how" , that is how the strategy aims are translated into everyday actions. Bear in mind that more strategies fail due to poor execution rather than poor strategy and that there are always more good ideas than time to execute them. Most companies dread this exercise because it is too big, takes too much time and will invariably fail due to everything else that we have to do on a daily basis taking over and the strategy not being implemented.

    My tuppence worth - the strategy lays out the lagging indicators (that say where we are now, where we want to be and by when) and the plan deals with the lead indicators that form the actions that will drive the lagging indicators from current state to future state (strategy aim). The key to success is allocating the time to actually do things that will change the needle on the strategy aims.
  • James Ashby
    1


    Succinctly summarized, I agree the challenge I am finding is gathering accurate identifying information it takes time, and developing it into a coherency, sharing my research and asking questions can help to keep on track.
    However It can can be rewarding as an independent adviser -where you now can implement a plan to see your strategy being folded into coherent Health & Safety objectives - "sweet juice"
  • Dianne Campton
    26
    I make a point of taking the team offsite each year around this time to review what we have achieved over the past 12 months and where we want to take the company in the following three years. At these sessions we pretty much land on actions for the first 12 months, have some detail for the next 12 months and generally just a high level idea of actions for the third 12 months. By doing it away from the day to day means we can focus and quickly generate ideas. We try and keep to a theme or one goal with several planned activities to reach the desired outcome.
    By doing this it makes it easier to share with the various parts of the business in a way they can understand and take on board. Having too many goals or activities only serves to confuse people and gives them anxiety over how much "extra" work they will have to do.
    By having a three year goal and breaking the actions down spreads the amount of work and embeds the processes better in the company.
    The hard part is getting to talk to all the relevant groups due to their busy schedules. Takes a bit of planning
  • Matt Sadgrove
    17

    In my experience strategic H&S plans fail for two reasons,
    1. They are too complex and no one can understand “the why” so no one buys in to the company direction
    2. They are not written with the input of those actually undertaking the day to day action so not a reflection of what is really going on at the coal face.
    We can all reference Iron Mike Tyson and say “everyone has a plan till they get punched in the face” trying to deflect why failure has happened and progress not made. But success shouldn’t depend on a rigid strategy either. Work evolves so why wouldn’t your H&S strategy. Simple, supple and supported is the easy road to incremental gains and therefore success.
    The H&S strategy needs to be adaptive just like the good people within the business.
  • Steve H
    9
    In my experience strategic H&S plans fail for two reasons,
    1. They are too complex and no one can understand “the why” so no one buys in to the company direction
    Matt Sadgrove

    I bought a franchise Matt, as apart of the deal it came a Health & Safety plan, looked really impressive, wound up ticking the boxes to get accredited as complying with both OHSAS18001 & AS/NZS4801.

    2. They are not written with the input of those actually undertaking the day to day action so not a reflection of what is really going on at the coal face.Matt Sadgrove

    That certainly appeared to be the situation in the case I'm familiar with, a few years ago, retaining the certification became to expensive and it lapsed, no change to the H&S system, when I decided not to renew my contract, I had to put my own H&S policy in place. I did that, it took me two goes to get to SiteWise Green. A few of my former colleagues submitted the group H&S system to SiteWise assessment, and didn't
  • James Ashby
    1


    Absolutely a strategic H&S plan is a work in progress however,ah! the patience that is what what I find difficult, when i start to trawling through through a forest of information I start second guessing myself of what is relevant
    Achieving "Common sense" out of a forest of information can be a real challenge.
    I am currently working through an a unfolding event that challenges my very sanity as I trawl through mountains of reference material scattered through various recognized organisations reference material
    I try to safety net myself via solid net working of like minded people with my conclusions
    It is in now in the draft process, I am very satisfied with the coherency of these documents
    However having dogeared personality may help with strategic planning, not easy in world of expectations - "ASP" can add unwanted stress.
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