When new safety programs or processes are rolled out unsuccessfully, there has almost always been a failure to determine either the factors necessary for success, the factors that can contribute to failure, or some combination of both. Without a list of the key factors of success and failure, a project launch is a blind affair. This blindness seems more logical if the project appears to be well constructed and has been successful at other organizations or sites in the same organization. Sadly, imitation of success is no guarantee of success.
The reasons for the imitation failing are basically the differences in sites and cultures. A good fit for one site might be a recipe for disaster at another. That is why an analysis of success and failure factors is so necessary. Such an analysis is unique to each culture. It should include a review of past successes and/or failures and the factors that contributed to those; but it should also include simply asking a representative cross-sample of people what they think of the project and what it would take to make it work. Good implementers and change agents have usually learned a lot about such analysis, but can almost always be more thorough if they simply list critical factors to success and failure, and address them in their implementations.
-Terry L. Mathis
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Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS three consecutive times. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, WILEY).