Presentation - International Rail Safety Conference (IRSC)

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Are your leaders sufficiently Risk Intelligent to
support safety?
Understanding and measuring the critical leadership characteristics
to support safety
Presentation to IRSC 2013
Arthur D. Little Limited
United Kingdom
www.adlittle.co.uk
Risk Intelligence of Leaders
‘Risk Intelligence’ is a measure of the mindfulness of leaders
and is necessary to successfully deliver safety strategy
 The importance of effective safety management systems supported by
effective safety culture is well understood by railway organisations
internationally
– Leaders play a critical role in enabling, supporting and actively leading
safety
 International research on both organisations involved in accidents and High
Reliability Organisations (HROs) has highlighted the importance of mindful
leadership
– This involves being conscious of the risk issues within the organisation
Leaders can, and must, influence the culture of safety through their
attitudes and behaviours
Stephen Watson
2
Risk Intelligence of Leaders
Collectively, the leaders actions and focus cast a ‘leadership
shadow’ on the organisation which influences safety culture
 Behaviours
 Framing issues
 Context setting
What we
say
How we
act
 Repeating
 Symbols
used/displayed
 Visible relationships
 Emphasis
Leadership
Shadow
 Defined and
implemented
accountability
 Rewards
 Recognition
What we
measure
What we
prioritise
 Standing meetings
 Interactions
 Regular disciplines
and routines
Stephen Watson
3
Risk Intelligence of Leaders
Examining HROs can help other organisations develop their
safety culture and approach to management
What is a HRO?
What can they teach us?
 A High Reliability Organisation (HRO)
is defined as “an organisation where a
single error, if not contained, could
cause not one fatality but hundreds”
– Examples researched include air
traffic control organisations and
United States Navy aircraft carriers
 HROs provide an example to help
organisations in other sectors improve
and develop their own safety culture
and management approaches
– This is particularly valuable to world
class organisations who find it difficult
to identify others in their sector that
they can learn from
 High Reliability Organisation is a
concept which organisations can aim
to achieve, but it is difficult to define in
terms of an accident or incident rate
 Research has identified five common
key characteristics of HROs and a
number of methods which organisations
can use to implement these
HRO definition from Professor Andrew Hopkins, Learning from High Reliability Organisations
Stephen Watson
4
Risk Intelligence of Leaders
HROs have five common key characteristics that can be
implemented in other organisations
Preoccupation with
failures rather than
success
Sensitivity to
operations
Reluctance to simplify
interpretations
Commitment to
resilience
Deference to expertise
HROs tend to be more situational and less strategic than other
organisations and can be thought of as ‘mindful’ organisations
Stephen Watson
5
Risk Intelligence of Leaders
‘Risk Intelligence’ is an element of mindfulness, and a ‘risk
intelligent’ leader commonly has nine key attributes
Understands and revisits
the risk profile as it
evolves and changes
Sets the agenda for risk for
his/her organisation
Remains open-minded
and sceptical about good
news
Is concerned by the rare,
high consequence
events
Reinforces the agenda
through systematic
attention
Listens, watches and
probes to ensure that all
concerns are out in the
open
Ensures appropriate
action is taken to
eliminate risk
Connects with and
influence other to
encourage ‘risk
intelligence’ in them
Has the right people
around them who are
willing and able to raise
concerns
Stephen Watson
6
Risk Intelligence of Leaders
The ‘Risk Intelligence of Leaders’ tool examines a leadership
teams ‘risk intelligence’ through their attitudes and behaviours
The tool engages a leadership team through a set of searching questions
around the nine key attributes using a five step process:
1
Select
leadership team
2
Briefing/
communication
3
Develop and
issue
questionnaires
4
Completion of
questionnaires
5
Analysis and
reporting
The results provide guidance on how leaders can improve safety in their
organisation by changing their behaviour and focus
Stephen Watson
7
Risk Intelligence of Leaders
The outputs of the tool are presented visually – for any team
we are interested in both average and minimum scores
Maximum, average and minimum scores
achieved in a leadership group
Comparison between a selected leadership
team and ‘best in class’ scores
Stephen Watson
8
Risk Intelligence of Leaders
Recommendations not only cover leader development but
identify safety risk areas to target for improvement
Example
Recommendations cover
- how the leadership team can increase their risk intelligence
- key areas of safety risks for improvement
1
Electricity
2
Working at height
4
Onsite management
Focus
areas
3
Subcontractors
Stephen Watson
9
Risk Intelligence of Leaders
Our experience shows that the process itself and the results
create real impact on leaders and their organisations
 The process of completing the tool makes leaders engage with safety and
think about how it applies to their role
 The response rate, and the quality of the returned questionnaires are
themselves indicators of the culture of safety and leadership commitment
 Some leadership teams said that the results “told us what we already knew”
which prompted the question “Why hasn’t something been done about it?”
 By involving the leaders the tool acts as an effective prompt for action and
our previous experience is that the issues identified quickly become part of
the next Annual Safety Plan with little additional work needed
The tool gets leaders talking openly with their peers and direct reports
about their ‘risk intelligence’ and their real impact on their organisation
Stephen Watson
10
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