Impossible Doesn’t Exist

I guess that means that anything is possible ….. BINGO!

That was how John Drebinger started out his keynote presentation last March at the Indiana Safety Conference.  He was fun and engaging, giving a very good speech about change and the importance of creating really big dreams with “Crystal Clear Outcomes”.

Drebinger asked his audience to think about the use of cell phones, and how even though they are second nature today they were considered impossible 25 years ago.  His point here was that to may people the idea of eliminating injuries is impossible.  However, to overcome the impossible it takes Vision and Courage, and the the ability to Imagine ….what a 100% safe workplace would look like.  Then  go out and create it!

It begins with sharing your imagination or vision.  But, it really doesn’t matter what you think does it?  It matters what they, the people whose thinking you hope to change all see and believe.

Start by asking a question or two. Use questions that people can answer.  “What’s the most important thing about safety?”  There’s no wrong answer and it spurs more questions and discussion.  Then, ask questions that help build creative thinking and visual images.  “If you had the power to change one thing that would improve safety, what would it be?” 

Next, how you communicate the vision is important.  As you are discussing safety or conducting training, try to think like your audience.  Put yourself in their place by using stories and examples that your employees can relate to.  Afterwards, look for the desired safe behaviors and tell people how well they are doing…. “That’s what we want!”  This creates a visual anchor and provides positive feedback.

Value the experience of your workers.  They know things you’ll never know, particularly mature workers.  “You know this job inside and out.  How can we teach others to do it, and do it safely?”  Try to give them a reason why it is important, involving them in the discussion and eliminate negativity.

Build trust.  Be genuine.  One good way is to let them know that there’s something you’ve been puzzled by and ask them to help solve it.   Create the situation and tell them why you don’t have a solution.  Open up their minds and let curiosity stream in!

Now let’s see if they can create a visual image of the solution and explain it.  What does it look like?  This is an important step that helps learners bring thoughts to life and begin to own solutions. 

In his presentation, Drebinger suggested that you should try to make the solution personal and geared toward helping other people.  It’s easy to get buy-in when you appeal to this desire.  Be sure to thank them, and thank them again!

At this point, Impossible Doesn’t Exist!  To achieve major changes in safety, work to engage everyone’s imagination.  Create a “Crystal Clear Outcome”.   What does it look, feel, smell and sound like?

Helping others to imagine themselves in control and working in a  100% safe job isn’t an easy challenge.  However, major changes can be made when individuals feel valued, empowered and encouraged to dream big.  We can do it!  The result is that great ideas will be shared and a willingness to improve will be developed.  The culture has shifted.

Being positive and encouraging personal responsibility is the key.  The key to opening up creativity and the pathway to possibilities.  That’s when the “Impossible Doesn’t Exist!”  Can you think of what 100% safe looks like in your workplace?   Bet you can.