Looking for Success?
The basics to reach success in business or otherwise are really simple.
Communication is the basis for success
When reading further, remember what Peter Drucker said:
“The best way to predict your future is to create it”
"What you have to do and the way you have to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you are
willing to do it, that's another matter."
I assume that you too, like everybody else, want to be successful, in
business and/or in private life. If you are one of those, start with two basic questions:
What is success?
What do you have to do to reach it?
Would the process to reach success in safety - in a business environment - be much
different from reaching success in other business areas of from reaching success in personal life? My
opinion? I do not think so, I think the basics are the same but you have to adapt these to your specific
environment and wishes.
- what is success? You can get rather "scientific" about this - but try my simple answer: success = achieving
your goal or objective.
Success = reaching objectives
Success is not
static - it is a moving target and it is similar to continuous improvement Once one goal has been
reached, another follows. You probably will have an end goal to be reached via a number of sub-goals that
will are essential to get you where you want to be. Success is future related.
In line with
the quotes by Peter Drucker: be careful to select your objectives. You really have to want the success you
are looking for; if not you will give up before you will get there!
Would you only
have one objective or goal at any given time? Probably not, you may have several goals to reach your “final”
goal. Your plan to reach your objective may include a number of sub-plans, each with their own specific
Once you have
reached your objective or goal, could you sit back and relax? Also: probably not. Once you have reached your
goal, you will probably set another one and the process starts allover. But, by then, you know the process in
and out and, in principle, the process remains the same and the basics of that process are
To achieve a
goal you must:
Have a plan what to do, why, by whom, when and
Have the knowledge/capabilities (and other resources) to do
what needs to be done
what must be done – by you and others as applicable - to reach you goal or
that's the basic, simple, model that I use: Plan - Train - Do. No plan without objective and no success
without doing what is in the plan. Don’t give up easily but adapt your plan as and when necessary. Getting
success requires work, if it would be easy everybody would have it. But it helps if you know the basics, in
business and in private life.
business environment, you normally cannot do things on your own and you need the consent, support and
involvement of others. In private life that will also be the case unless you live alone on a faraway island
where there are no other people. In business executing the process
to make and execute the plan - or "management system" - may be complicated because of people
involved. But - fortunately - the basics are simple.
life, you may be setting the objective – where to go - as the starting point of your plan but you may need to
the help of others to reach your objective; which makes you the plan leader. In business, you may not be in
that leadership position. If you are not, working in a company, or as an external consultant, would it not be
nice to know how to reach objectives? Would it not be nice to know what the basics are to get the top person
of the organization to give his or her leadership and motivation to bring the success that you are looking
for? Would it not be nice to know the process that the company has to follow bringing the leadership and
motivation down the organization - while involving people in the development, execution and improvement of
the plan to reach success?
In a business
environment, you may want to call the plan a management system and, in fact, a management system is a plan as
it contains work to be done to obtain certain results. However a management system is often directed at
obtaining the minimum performance level at which a certificate can be obtained. That may bring you the
certificate but would it bring you success that goes beyond the certificate? If certificate is all you are
looking for, fine, but you should realize that there may be a world of success still to be obtained beyond
the level at which the certificate will be issued.
management system or plan normally contains a number of sub-plans or elements, each of which should have
their own, specific, objective contributing to the overall purpose of the plan or management system. The
sub-plans are the driving forces behind achieving the overall goal. The sub-plans contain what needs to be
done, why, by whom, when and how. Each sub-plan needs a responsible person for coordination of the
development, maintenance and improvement of the sub-plan. Periodic checks should be made to evaluate sub-plan
activities carried out and results obtained. To that end, each subplan must have the same generic structure
that goes from purpose and why via activities to carry out to evaluation (of activities carried out and
results thereof) - the improvement wheel.
implementation, maintenance and improvement of the plan (in a business environment) is included in a process
that starts at the top of the organization and descends down the organization involving others at different
levels. Such process may take some time and will always be adjusted to obtain results. In principle, this
process would involve delegation of (some) decision-making to the lower end of the organization; if you ask
people to make a contribution, it also means giving them responsibilities.
To make the
process successful, people need to speak the same language and understand the importance of purpose and plan.
Sharing this knowledge is part of the process.
If the goal
serves the entire organization, it requires involving as many people as possible in the process. This is why
the importance of an objective such as to “improve safety " should be shared by many. A goal can also be more
specific and involve a smaller group. This is why sub-plans may require a specific department, for example
purchasing, design, training, etc., to form the heart of the coordination team - of course, including contact
with (end) users.
The process to
make a plan or management system is generic and, independent of the objective; you must go through the same
steps. As far as the speaking the same language is concerned, if the objective is "improve safety" efforts
should be taken to make clear what the shared importance is. This can be done by looking at the basic
activities to enable "safety": risk
identification, control measures, etc. Then it will be easy to establish relationships with other business
aspects that use the same basis: quality, environment, risk management, cost management, company reputation
on others to reach success it is essential to:
Know the process to make the plan - the route to reach
Speak the same language – and agree on the way to
You find both
essential issues addressed in two books that I wrote.
success in “safety", both books are of importance to the safety professional working as an internal or
external consultant. But as the approach is largely generic, the principles will probably apply to all
business areas and activities, large and small. It will also apply to private life.
shows the process that will lead to success. Although safety oriented, this book describes the generic
process to reach objectives and success. Based on the Plan – Train – Do model, the process consisting of 17
steps starts at the top and goes down the organization involving those who need to be involved while sharing
knowledge and requesting participation. Included in the book is a rating tool that allows you to obtain an
(objective) impression of how well your organization has done in the improvement/development process;
measured in 17 steps. While the process that I show has 17 steps, you should adapt it to the specific
circumstances of your organization or that of your client.
Book 2 is more for those who work in the area of safety, risk management and control
of loss. It shows the relation between these three business areas as part of the most essential leadership and
management function: to solve problems, proactive and reactive - prior to and after the unwanted event. The
three areas are based on the same principles or activities: risk identification, (proactive) control measures
and (retroactive) learning form what goes wrong. Accepting that, these three areas are practically the same, at
least form a business pint of view. And you can add almost all other areas, activities and tasks to that if you
accept that one of the main task of leadership and management, actually: of everyone in your organization, is to
make better what is being done: protecting your organization.
In safety land
and looking form a historic point of view, people often make the relation between safety success (≈ accident
frequency) and control/development phases as shown graphically in the picture below. First there is the
technology phase, then the organization and finally culture as the vehicle to get the best end results (read:
success; when one levels off, the next phase will bring additional impetus. What will be after the culture
phase is not indicated in the picture – does this indicate that there is nothing else or that culture is the
Safety development phases
by the picture above seems to suggest that these are separable phases with one following the other. However,
you should really look upon this as a trinity in which "organization" at the center also takes care of
technology and culture. In my opinion, the picture is misleading, not to say wrong. The sequence of
development phases presented above is based on the development that started with the industrial revolution in
which period technology was ruling and the value of human lives - of the workers, that is - was not really an
issue. So, the sequence show above may be based on 150 - 200 years of history. Today we should realize that
organization is leading as shown in the picture below. Today's thinking should put organization first
dealing with technology and culture/behavior simaltaneaoulsy. Based on "think & decide first, then
Organization - the real source of safety
Should you be
looking for ongoing success or continuous improvement, you should put the emphasis on “the way we do things
here”, the organization. But you should do that using a
process involving everyone in the
organization, at every level. When doing it right, you will get the machines and equipment in line with
technological developments. You will also get the individual behavior – and the culture - that comes with
involving people and giving them responsibilities where necessary and justified. In order to achieve his or
her success, the (safety) consultant must know the process to make to the plan and speak the language that to
build the bridge to decision-making management leadership.
Communication is the basis for success
for success in safety you need:
to be able to place safety in the context
of organizational leadership (and management) and in relation to other business
interests such as risk management, cost control, insurance,
to know the process that is the pathway
leading to success
Knowing the detailed safety techniques will not give
you success. That technical detail may be important after you have gotten the attention and
support of others. First you need to get the attention and support from the top of the
organization, from management but first of all from the
The two books that I wrote relate to these two main
Risk Management, Safety and Control of
Loss – Protecting Your
Making Your Future in Business (formerly:
Building a Management System that
my books? Go here.