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06 July 2010

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This is really inspiring. It helps me understand in part why companies die and why they fail to make lasting improvements.

This is really depressing. It reminds me, as a Lean Manager, that I can only improve a small part of the company I work for. And that if I do make progress it will be gone in a wink of an eye.

Well, it reinforces that discipline is a cultural trait as well. The discipline of "constancy of purpose" (Deming), of understanding variation, implementing LEAN in all facets of the organization -- not just front line.
In these times, it is difficult to find leaders who know what it means to model and apply discipline personally, professionally, and culturally.

I have been following the progress of Ford's CEO Alan Mulally since his 2006 arrival. He has gotten great results from mostly the same people by changing the management structure, ironically to a more Toyota-style culture. We won't really know until after his eventual retirement whether the progress is based on his personal skill or on the systems he is putting in place. The much different style of Ed Whitacre at GM will make for an interesting comparison over the next few years.

A couple things I would offer from a safety pro’s perspective. Many (probably most) companies still measure safety performance by total recordable and lost day case rates. Not only are those lagging indicators but they also have no relevance to the hazards associated with high severity – low probability incidents (e.g. explosions, spills, etc…) There is a prevailing belief within the safety community that the 70 year old teachings of a man named Heinrich are real. Heinrich’s myths have been debunked but safety pros and CEOs still believe that reducing exposures for the little cases somehow magically takes care of the really high hazard stuff that happens infrequently.

Heinrich Revisited: Truisms or Myths [Paperback]
By Fred Manuele is the reference

The other concern is the reliance on behavior – based safety. BBS works off the Heinrich principle which purports that over 90% of all accidents are from unsafe behavior. It’s crap and flies in the face of Deming and those who believe that leadership, management and the system dictate results…

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