One of the best examples of this is the “rumble strip,” those bumps on the side of the road that alerts a driver when he is wandering off the carriageway. This is a structure designed to keep behaviour inside of a certain limit while giving the driver as much freedom as possible to drive safely. We think this is a pretty good example of how to design safety in all kinds of business situations.
Letting people be the solution to safety means there is a management system that defines the boundaries of safe performance (the rumble strips), leadership providing the direction, focus and encouragement in bringing out the best in people. This allows people to provide their natural resourcefulness, innovation, and learning to the everyday challenges of safe production.
We call this balance between freedom and constraint that leadership provides a Holding Environment. Leadership is responsible for creating the conditions in which people can perform at the top of their game. Our definition of a holding environment is drawn from the work by Ronald Heifetz, Professor at Harvard Kennedy School and from studies in human development.
A holding environment is a structure that allows and supports people to be the solution to safety while at the same time creates boundaries, goals and learning objectives (rumble strips). It allows for the dichotomous ways of thinking about people (basically good but flawed) to come together in a practical way.
At WhyNot Partnering, we believe that people are the solution and we have developed a set of tools and methodologies to support companies who are ready to take the next step in their approach to safety.