Paul's presentation of his experiences was very moving, and inspirational. I believe him being here to talk through and being able to ask questions first hand was great.
While walking the dog around where I live and seeing all the Christmas decorations up. It got me thinking about how Christmas traditions are created and evolved over the years to where they have evolved to day.
Take the humble Christmas tree, it sits in the corner of the living room decorated with everything that twinkles and other than the presents under it, is the centre piece of the festivities.
Do we really understand where the idea came from and how it evolved to what it is today? Some do, but most people haven't a clue or couldn't care less.
For Europeans Pagan's they have been bringing fir tree branches into their houses for hundreds of years (if not thousands), as it was believed that it would bring spring forward. For Britain and its relationship with the Christmas tree was started by George the third's wife Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1800. It wasn't until Prince Albert married Queen Victoria that having a Christmas tree up become popular, especially first with the upper middle class and then the rest of the population.
Now bring all that history and tradition into the organisation that you work for (even the industry) and relate it to your (and it's) health, safety and environmental culture.
There are questions that need to be asked and answered to really understand why things are done the way they are and how it has evolved over the years.
Take my industry (paper) when I started as an 18 year old, I was paired with the most oldest wisest gentleman who taught me everything he knew (the good habits as well as the bad). As a naive youngster just out of college how did I know any different (the past 13 years was play learning behind a desk)?
One thing did stick in my mind (other than the training), when I was told that I wouldn't be a papermaker until I had lost a finger! At the time you don't think anything of it (you have that embarrassing laugh), but as time goes by, I look back on that comment and think how bloody stupid! You start to wander, was it said so to cover his blushes and embarrassment or for mine when and if I lost a finger?
I'm glad to say that the industry that I still have a passion for has grown up and injuries are a fraction of what they use to be because we have matured and learnt from the past.
Over the years we adapt something introduced to yourselves until it becomes ours, we own it and it's now our tradition to hand down to the next generation. Who will take what they like best and works well for them and then put their twist on the tradition to be handed down again. The flow just keeps going as trends come in and out again like the tide of the sea.
Organisations and Industries are evolving every minute of the day to make things their own, so it fits into their view of the world. This is very much like trying to get health, safety and environmental policies, risk assessments and procedures to fit in with the organisation and its culture (traditions), sometimes you can't use a genetic one fits all situations, you adapt each part to fit best the need you have at that particular time.
With this in mind we now have to move the situations to the sharp end, when things are not going so great and tempers are getting a little short because the flow in work is not progressing like it should, things start to get adapted to get the work done. Once it is done once, the genie is out the bottle for every time the flow is disrupted the adapted solution is used. This is when tradition is established and evolves for every new generation, until someone draws a line in the sand and has the courage and conviction to say 'STOP! Can we please look at this as I think we can do this in a safer manner or there is a piece of equipment that will help improve the task'.
Wishing you and your families a peaceful Christmas and a new year full of opportunities!
IOSH Food and Drink Conference
I had the pleasure to attend and speak at the IOSH Food and Drink Conference last month, being a baker in a previous life, before this change in direction into Health and Safety, it was interesting to hear the issues and solutions from a different sector of industry (normally construction and manufacturing).
Actually, when you listen to the speakers presenting and start talking to the other delegates the issues the sector has to deal with are no more different from other industry sectors.
The only thing different are the way solutions that are put in place to get the buy in and enhancement to a better health and safety culture.
At the end of last week, I received my official feedback from the conference, as it is always good to see where you can improve and the general comments generated about the speech. Well, I could not be more pleased with the results on the presentation, with the delivery score coming out as 92% excellent and 96% with the content being excellent.
Comments that followed were:
· Paul Mahoney was inspirational
· Paul was excellent
· Paul Mahoney's presentation and attitude was very good, we will be asking him to attend and present to our site (Allied Bakeries London)
· Paul Mahoney was inspirational to be able to stand up a recount what happened takes guts, you could hear and see the emotion, we would bring him to our sites to speak to our teams (Allied Bakeries)
· Paul Mahoney's presentation was very inspirational
Therefore, what is my secret to delivering a presentation? That would be telling and successful people do not give away their secrets do they? As far as I am concerned, there is not no magical secrets, just some basic rules to follow.
· Get yourself a mentor/coach that you can bounce ideas off, because they can see and feel if it is going to work with your audience.
· Use pictures as much as possible, as most people are visual and relate to pictures more than words. What is that saying a picture paints a thousand words?
· Use the odd video to break up the speech, as people have an attention span of 8 seconds to 8 minutes (according to new research). If need be get them involved in an exercise, to break the speech up..
· Make it sad, make it fun, but make sure people join you on a journey through the speech (remember the speech is a story start, middle and end)..
· Be passionate about what your subject is going to be concerning.
Do not hide behind the lectern, come and face your audience. They want to see you not an upper body behind a box.
Over the last 4 years, I have travelled to Buffalo, New York and even Adu Dhabi in the UAE, plus all around the UK talking about how a group of workers and managers (including myself) missed the signs that we were heading for disaster and the after effects.
It has been brilliant meeting some fantastic people and seeing how things are made on site visits, and I am not knocking this because at some level there has been an impact in getting people to work and live that little bit more safely and healthy. This is where the shooting star part comes in, as with some people I must come in as a meteorite (shooting star) in the night’s sky. I show up as a bright streak across the work site sky and then disappear over the horizon.
Yes, while I am visible it makes an impact and people think about their working conditions. What they should change or wish they could change, but then they go back to work and most is forgotten because reality kicks in because they believe it will not happen to them or their pressure to the delivery of the job takes over, does management (senior/middle) really want it.
Actually, I am not just describing myself, but trainers across the country. The impact is there (but, how long and/or deep is that impact on delegates?). Only by asking individuals will we know. What it does mean is asking them (learner/delegate) not just after the course, but in the future (months later).
What is required (my opinion) is that repeated presence where regular visits are set up with people to remind them the importance of health and safety, plus the significance of their behaviour on keeping the standards high in achieving the organisation’s health and safety targets.
It is a bit like a comet, it circles the sun every 50 years or so and when it gets so far from the sun it starts to leave a trail across the night sky. This trail stays in the night sky for some time, before it disappears from sight, but not before it has left a deep impression on the memory (I can still remember seeing Halley’s Comet as a 14 year old in 1986).
Therefore, with this in mind the trainer needs to become an envoy to the organisation. For me it would start with my talks and then split the slides up into team clusters where Q&A sessions are held in their working environment to discuss at a deeper level to the how and why things are done around here.
A fresh eyes approach can be employed (good and bad situations and behaviours) and reported to the safety committee at their meetings. As well as promoting health and safety standards internally within the organisation alongside the health and safety department.
The envoy promotes the organisation at conferences and how having an external agent increases the standards because they bring new thinking to the organisation and increases the communication about health and safety practices and behaviour, as they are an independent agent.
The envoy is not the person that drives the enhancement in a safer and healthier culture; they are an agent in helping that enhancement in culture because to get to a higher safer healthier standard the drive has to come from the people within any organisation to want to grow.
‘I have always viewed my role as a sort of ambassador or bridge between groups to help provide a dialog’. - Joichi Ito
Just by looking around we can actually draw inspiration, in how to improve the culture we live and work in.
This time the humble snail can help us in the next step to a better culture. So why the snail? Well, it goes back a few weeks while reading the Telegraph and one of Michael Deacons articles and he was saying about have you noticed that when the heavens open the humble snail comes out and is then crushed under foot or wheel because the desire to be out in the rain is too much! They seem to be the only creature to go against Darwin law of evolution and evolve.
Well isn’t that a bit like some work colleagues we have worked with or still do. No matter how the rest of us learn and move forward to an improved culture. Somewhere in a dark corner a person will emerge and do what they have always done because it works and it doesn’t need improving because that’s how it is and always will be!
What they don’t see is that giant foot hoovering over head as they do it their way. Now they will in all probability get away with it and never get crushed by that giant foot. Yes, they have the near miss, but hay that’s life these things happen. They accept that accidents happen and we just need to move on.
They think that the shell on their back will protect them cos they are a man. They know what they are doing. They even argue that we have gone too far the other way and the modern human doesn’t like risks.
The trouble with being a safety professional we need to get that right balance of getting the snail to evolve, but also to encourage that culture to push the boundaries in a controlled manner, but how do we evolve without risk?
My speech is evolving all the time because I pick up on things said or wrote and think that play with that and the only thing if I know if it will work is to test it on my next audience. It’s a bit like the new facilitation course that I believe will help improve cultures, as it will explore a new way of getting the answers that are out there, but are kept under wraps because the person thinks no one wants to know or listen.
My coach and mentor Dan Terry is in the same situation with his coaching and leading course. It’s new for a start because the whole idea of the course is to draw out the leadership style you display and bring the coach out to. While your on the course it’s challenges you mentally and physically. The whole idea is for the course to challenge the delegate because how do we evolve and grow, if we are not challenged?
Health and safety is not about wrapping people up in cotton wool. Health and safety should be about managing the hazards and getting people to evolve and grow to recognise the hazards around them and encourage ownership of their workplaces.
I had an enquiry at the end of the week about the possibility of running a Lego Serious Play Facilitation session at a conference. During the phone call the gentleman asked the very question that all people involved with health and safety are looking for. - 'What does health and safety look like?' The only issue was he couldn't see what it would look like using Lego. I could not answer that question as it was a phone call and the limit of communication via a phone line is the lack of visual interaction.
Well, I thought I need to answer that question? The answer is in the bricks (while training we were always told trust the bricks). So while I sit in my hotel room near Chesterfield on a Sunday night, I decided to build my answer (using the bricks available in a window exploration bag. Not all bricks used).
You can see the answer in the attached picture below (built in 3 minutes, any longer and you start to question the question and build what you think other want). So let me explain my answer.
Health and safety is about getting everybody to see the hazards and identifying where they are. It's about providing a barrier to keep them safe. All the time being transparent what they can and can't do, and being clear why this is the case. Finally, it's about getting everybody to have ideas of their own, and own it as well to how health and safety can be improved in the workplace.
What would you build? And Why? It's not just about your model that you built, it is what others build too. And getting that shared model that everybody can commit to, in improving that culture where everyone goes home and returns to work everyday.
So if you want to explore what your lads and lassies would build for a healthier and safer culture then get in touch. By the way why not build and share your models and lets build a better culture together.
It is sometimes weird where them moments of creative thinking comes from! I have just had one today from the most unlikely sources the film Revolver. Actually, tell a lie it started yesterday evening, I was watching TV and the adverts were on and a tune accompanying one of these adverts was a haunting tune and I knew that I had heard it from the film Revolver, but couldn't remember the name of it.
Well, searching this morning for the name of the tune (Gnossienne "No.1" (from Erik Satie performed by Alessandra Celletti). While reading about how the film was panned by the so called critics. I also read that Guy Richie was inspired by Kabbalah to make the film, so like you do I clicked the link and came across this story on Wikipedia.
'Four men entered pardes — Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Acher (Elisha ben Abuyah), and Rabbi Akiva. Ben Azzai looked and died; Ben Zoma looked and went mad; Acher destroyed the plants; Akiva entered in peace and departed in peace'.
This got me thinking about the characters at in an organisation and how they react to things happening especially when the business wants to improve the culture.
These are the four characters across all levels of the organisation. Even though they are spread across the business, you will find that some are more visible than others in the many layers and departments.
But what makes them tick to act the way they do? Well, looking a bit deeper into Kabbalah and I came across the type of approaches (Wikipedia)
So, if we break it down to the following questions, then answers will appear in helping enhance the culture that has evolved over time.
Sometimes its not about new thinking that drives improvements, but reading old texts and revamping them for the modern world to make them fit in the environments that we encounter everybody.
This week I attend a facilitation course to run Lego Serious Play, you may think how can this make a difference to my organisation?
Well, it changes the way people get involved with the questions being asked, especially with cultural change. The methodology of the serious play thinking is that everybody is involved in the session as they lean in, building their ideals in real time and giving that out of the box answer.
As everybody is involved it can stop that poor survey response because the session becomes the survey and everybody has to be involved and respond. As the other members of the session questions the model, not the person. So, a strategy evolves in front of your eyes and in your hands.
Health and safety can benefit and be improved as well as instead of people sitting around, arms crossed and looking at either the floor or ceiling, they get involved as they are invited to take part and express their views.
There is no PowerPoint, no flipcharts and no sitting around listening to someone teach a subject,. It is lean in, involving everyone and fun with a goal in mind.
Plato said 'You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation'. Nearly 2500 years later we are starting to see how right he was. A session can last a few hours to a couple of days depending how deep you want to go.
Play brings the best out of us and it gives a new light to areas that have become stale and run out of ideas. It allows people to join in where before there were not involved or felt part off the process. It makes ideas easier to see as they are there on the table staring us in the face.
As most people are either visual or kinaesthetic when they learn a large majority of employees are involved straightaway, the auditory learners are still involved as they are included at the storytelling and Q&A. It is a very much win - win situation when it comes to moving things forward in the right direction.
Other uses for the Lego Serious Play to help the organisation can be coaching and mentoring employees (any level) or mindfulness sessions to unlocking employees stress,
If you are interested in developing employees and/or the organisation then please get in touch to discuss your requirements in going to new frontiers.
I love chess, its a game that gets you thinking not just about your move, but that of your opponents as you try and second guess what their next move is and maybe the next couple after that.
One of the biggest moves in chess is the queen sacrifice, where you give up the most powerful piece on the board. It takes a great player to do such a move, because most will hang on to the queen for as long as possible, hoping to win or draw a game with it.
Sometimes for the good we have to sacrifice something at work, even though at the time it looks a weird move and everybody is thinking have you finally, lost their mind.
This is where a great employee differs from the rest. To change a culture (especially, for a healthier and safer one) everybody has got to learn to sacrifice a little something to help change things for the better. If they don't things will never change and more than likely in the end they will lose everything, as they try and hold on to everything the got.
It's about letting people see the bigger picture and see that the little sacrifice being made will benefit not only the business, but themselves as well. It's that win-win situation for all concerned.
None of us like to wear PPE (mainly because its uncomfortable and at times makes the job a little awkward) but that little sacrifice will help us be safer for now and healthier in the future.
If you hadn't notice the last couple of weeks there has been lots of people trying to put 4 years of hard work to good use as they hope that at the end a gold medal is placed over their neck.
4 years seems a very long time to most people, as they hope most of the time just to get through one year at a time. It is nearly 4 years since I took that little step in front of my first audience to tell them about that day and the affects and effects since.
It wasn't the most brilliant of talks as I stumbled over my words, as they disappeared from my mind. I was also challenged by one of the delegates as he said he wouldn't or none of his colleagues would do that stupid thing that I had done. He was right it was a stupid thing to do, diving in trying to get a machine up and running again. What he couldn't see was that he was doing the same, as he described why he had scares down his neck because he scrapped the slag off the molten metal.
I'm getting off track (no pun intended) when I look back now it must be like all them sports men and women out in Rio, they must of faced times when they could just of turned their backs and walk away from it all, but something drives them to keep going and beat the challenge ahead.
That's how I look at the challenge of inspiring others to work safer and go home everyday to their love ones. There is at times going to be that hurdle just a little bit to high and you just can't see a way over. You start to get angry as the more you try the more you fail. The challenge looks like its got the better of you, but then one day you see a different way of doing things and the hurdle appears tiny and you power ahead to the next challenge.
What I have described is the challenging person in the room, the one who wants to point a finger at me and tell me I'm stupid for doing what I did. They are right I was and if only I could turn back time, I can't as much as I wish to be in my little mill doing what I was good at.
Actually, they need to point the finger at themselves as they need to tell themselves they are the stupid one because so, far they have been the lucky one not to end up in hospital.
My way of dealing with addressing the challenges of getting that healthier safer attitude is to go off at a tangent. Why as it gets people thinking as I know that one slide, one story could get the result I'm hoping for a family not receiving that phone call or knock at the door.