What’s a Safety Innovation Lead, and what’s their work look and sound like? You’re about to find out.
Hey, it’s Andrew, and this is Safety on Tap.
Since you’re listening in, you must be a leader wanting to grow yourself and drastically improve health and safety along the way.  Welcome to you, you’re in the right place.  If this is your first time listening in, thanks for joining us and well done for trying something different to improve! And of course, welcome back to all of you wonderful regular listeners.
Today I welcome back friend of the show and previous guest Michelle Oberg, to fill us in on some new ideas, her new but not so new role, and what new things we might consider if we want to innovate in safety.  Michelle is the Safety Innovation Lead in the transport and infrastructure division of Downer, which employs over 50,000 people across Australia and New Zealand designing, building and sustaining a bunch of different infrastructure and facilities assets.
Here’s Michelle:


Wasn’t that an enlightening conversation? Thanks again to Michelle for being so generous.
Before I get to my three takeaways from this episode, let’s talk grammar.
LOTS of people use the verb ‘enjoy’ to describe the podcast, which sounds like “I ‘enjoyed’ this episode”.    That’s nice, and I appreciate the feedback, but not exactly what I am aiming for.
I’d love to hear from you finishing any of these sentences: 
“My previous thinking was challenged by the idea that….”
“I took action and tried ….., and what I learned as a result was…..”
“I am a better professional for listening, because….”
Want to finish one of these sentences? Send me an email to andrew@safetyontap.com – I’d love to hear from you.
Here are my three takeaways from that chat with Michelle Oberg:
Takeaway #1: If you focus on understanding work, you might improve work, and since safety is a function or outcome of work, improved work means improved safety.  Didn’t Michelle put this so well! This is a simple, and firm assertion about what we can and should be doing in our roles.  This objection, or excuse which often comes up, about not my role, that’s HR or similar things – I’ve poked at this a lot recently and I’ve found it lacking.  Broaden your focus to look at improving work, explain why this makes sense to your boss, and see what happens.  It’s almost entirely upside, I promise you.
Takeaway #2: The future of safety coming from the past, requires an AND, not an OR.  It’s what has worked from the past AND trying new things where old ways fall short.  New ideas are not a rejection of the past, not dishonoring history, not a moral judgment.  Old AND new.  Traditional AND emerging.  Safety I, AND Safety II.
Takeaway #3: Michelle took us through a great, straightforward experiment that they have designed to interrogate what is and isn’t working, in this specific case with pre-starts.  Taking an experimental approach is a great way to innovate, in fact, Jeff Bezos from Amazon says that their success is founded on experiments, which means you need to fail more than you succeed, as long as you are learning.  Experiments are intentional, designed, considered, structured things.  This is a safe way to try new things, in the spirit of learning.  And like I always say, the better you learn, the better you will perform.  This experiment, and Michelle and the Downer team, are a testament to that.
Grab a copy of the transcript of this episode if you want a resource to read, over at safetyontap.com/ep120, you can also get a copy of my handwritten reflection notes, and a template you can use to personalize your lessons from listening.  The website also has  transcripts, reflection notes, and more for other episodes if you head over to safetyontap.com/ep120
Don’t forget to send me an email too, not just if you enjoy an episode, but if you’ve changed because of an episode.  andrew@safetyontap.com
Thanks so much for listening.  Until next time, what’s the one thing you’ll do to take positive, effective or rewarding action, to grow yourself, and drastically improve health and safety along the way? Seeya!