LEADERSHIP IN SAFETY
How can we build and spread a culture of safety across the whole organisation of 40,000 employees working in 60 countries?
SAIPEM is a global leader in drilling, engineering, construction and installation of pipelines for complex projects in the oil & gas market with nearly 40,000 employees. SAIPEM works in harsh conditions, remote areas and deep water. Safety levels in 2007 compared well to industry standards but top management believed that there was both a moral and business imperative to break through the ‘safety plateau’ it had reached. Injuries were at an all-time low but over the previous decade 58 employees and contractors had lost their lives while carrying out operations for SAIPEM.
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Back in 2005 we were involved in an extensive project to sensitise management and employees to the cross-cultural dynamics in teamwork after the acquisition of Bouygues Offshore.
On that programme was the Head of Safety, Andrea Forzan. Impressed by the emotional and experiential aspect of the workshop, he asked if we could meet to discuss how we could develop a safety workshop on similar lines.
“But we don’t know anything about safety!” we said.
“But we do. You know how to create an emotional impact, get people to think and change their approach. That’s what we need. I have a team of specialists for you to work with.”
The challenge started with how to develop a workshop which would touch the hearts and minds of all employees, focusing on addressing the behavioural factors which make up 90% of fatalities. This evolved into supporting the creation of a new Safety Vision for the company and the hugely ambitious goal of deploying a large scale behavioural change process - a grassroots movement of safety leadership worldwide.
HOW WE RESPONDED
We worked for one year in a joint team with a dedicated SAIPEM group of Safety trainers. Researching, benchmarking, interviewing and reading through fatality investigations. Together we developed and crafted a 1.5 day workshop based on powerful activities and role-plays. Our ignorance about what was ‘normal’ in the safety training area was an advantage as we would constantly challenge the status quo, asking ‘Why not?’. We brought in Pukka Films who we had used in the past to develop emotional video dramas for intercultural development. Working with the joint team they created The Safer, The Better which went on to win numerous industry video awards. We developed 7 Safety Leadership Expectations which we defined in detail. With our partners, WorldWork Ltd we produced an on-line profiling tool (The Safety Leader Profiler) to measure an individual’s emphasis across the expectations and act as the basis for leadership coaching. We embedded in the Safety Leader Profiler a survey of organisational safety culture based on key researched indicators to track local perceptions of safety to know where gaps urgently needed to be closed. As the occasional fatality announcements still continued to arrive, the joint team took this project personally and switched onto missionary mode. This was important work which could make a difference. We could potentially save lives. We co-delivered the LiS (Leadership in Safety) Workshop to all senior managers, got commitment for a stop-work policy, trained a team of 15 LiS facilitators from within the company. The message started to spread. SAIPEM’s commitment to the project was huge. Energy was high. We were starting to lead the industry in approaching safety. The team were starting to give industry conference presentations about our journey and getting the attention of the major oil & gas operators. But this was not good enough. Change was too slow. I invited Leandro Herrero to join the project and we applied his Viral ChangeTM approach to the entire organisation – identifying a small number for safety behaviours to be spread within networks through highly influential peers. A new film What Comes First was made to illustrate these behaviours in action. This was doing more with less and reaching (and changing) a massive number of people. By 2011 the SAIPEM team was fully autonomous and, after a brainstorming session together, set up a Leadership in Health and Safety Foundation. We left the project at that stage. A consultant’s aim is (or should be) to render themselves dispensable at the earliest opportunity. We had done our part. We handed over to the SAIPEM team.
Today there have been over 1,000 editions of the LiS Workshop in almost every country where SAIPEM operates. Management has changed but the project goes on. There have been significant shifts in safety behaviours which have shown up in LTI statistics, especially in tough locations like Peru and Nigeria. Although cause and effect conclusions can be misleading, SAIPEM’s safety record has broken through the previous plateau. There is great pride in SAIPEM in how they managed to transform from a follower in safety to a global leader. The LHS Foundation, led by original project team member Davide Scotti, has gone on to be at the centre of the Italy Loves Safety movement, working with schools (young leaders in safety) and creating innovative ways to make work safer by social activism. They now train other companies with workshops and consulting; from industry follower to industry benchmark. Quite a journey. We were very proud to be part of it.
This shows our Operating System in action – defining a common purpose with the client and having enough ambition to envision what the impact could be. We joined the dots – workshop design, client team expertise, behavioural change expertise, film makers, psychometric test developers - to create something together that no one could have achieved individually. We didn’t know it at the time but this project was clearly about Global Agility applied to safety leadership: people needed to act with choices (response-ability) when faced with unsafe conditions, think about the consequences of their behaviour on themselves and others and create value from a safe and healthy work environment.
Davide Scotti, Secretary General of the Leadership in Health & Safety Foundation and Saipem HSE Culture Manager
“Ten years ago I jumped onto a train without any idea of the final destination. I carried with me a small bag full of enthusiasm and a few things I had learned during my education and early career in the UK. I had the privilege to find on board some amazing passengers, mainly Saipem managers and professionals, and amongst them a fantastic consultant from TCO International - someone with the ability to make you uncomfortable and inspire you simultaneously; an innovator provoking both deep and lateral thinking through continuous questioning and with the ability to trigger creativity in a very natural and systematic way. David Trickey is an extremely high level consultant who allowed me to open up to new possibilities and growth.
Thanks to our work together a world class program was developed, which undoubtedly contributed to saving many people lives, and which continue, after 10 years, to be the industry reference point in the field of health and safety leadership. David like all great masters was happy to leave the train to let us continue this amazing journey. Today we have on board many enthusiastic people who believe in the power of collaboration, trust and passion to make this world a better and safer place. That's why we can't stop. That's why we will be always grateful to the guy who pushed us out of our comfort zone and helped us initiate this global, volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous and above all ambitious journey.”