What if we spent more time improving work, would health and safety also improve as a result? What if we did that using many of the principles built into safety thinking, but not calling it safety? What if people have been doing exactly that for almost half a decade, with great results? They have, and that’s what we’re chatting about today.
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’s conversation is almost entirely not about health and safety. It’s about work. Which makes sense for this podcast, since my mission is to help leaders, like you, who want to grow yourselves, and drastically improve health and safety along the way.
So today’s chat is about how you can grow yourself, by reimagining the way we work, in order that health and safety (and a bunch of other awesome things) become outcomes of the way we work.
My guest today is Ian Borges. Ian is one of the founders and senior leaders at the Semco Style Institute, a collaboration inspired by the almost half a century of revolutionary leadership of Brazilian businessman Ricardo Semler. Semler’s approach to leadership is probably best described as a self-management philosophy, but this kind of approach is often described as democratic leadership, holocracy, or industrial democracy.
These are some very interesting ideas, which are born out of practice, not out of theory. An increasing number of people believe in newer safety philosophies, and talk about concepts like positives, the enhanced role of people in success, autonomy, a different perspective on controls and control. What if there were people, and organisations, applying very similar principles but not anchored in safety, but simply in the way we work overall. That’s what today’s conversation is all about.
I must also acknowledge Paulo, a super active and great leader within the Safety on Tap tribe, who has been nudging me for a while to get Ricardo Semler on the podcast. I haven’t got Ricardo yet, but to have Ian, one of his right-hand people, is very exciting. So thank you to Paulo for your encouragement, I hope you enjoy this.
Here’s Ian Borges:
Check out the work of the Semco Style Institute at semcostyle.org You can also learn more about the Semco Style principles and a very cool toolkit, outlining some of the many practices which enable the principles over at Semco.style/toolkit
– Here’s my three takeaways from that chat with Ian Borges:
Takeaway #1: I think the more we as health and safety professionals are able to conceptualise and practice our roles as improvers of work, the more effective we will be in improving health and safety. Today’s conversation is a great example, with nothing obviously to do with health and safety, but clearly reinforcing this potential. What if you spent more time working on work, and less time on things in the name of health and safety, which don’t have much impact?
-Takeaway #2: You are in an amazing position to be an action learner and action researcher. Ian said the Semco Style work has been borne out of decades of practice, not theory, which gives is a solid and interesting grounding. And yet it’s not absent of theory, even just in this short chat we touched on very theoretically robust concepts, things like psychological safety, trust, and employee engagement. The question is not whether you can be a researcher in your own organisation, the question is how can you be a better action researcher?
Takeaway #3: So much of this conversation centred on change – the need for change, the opportunity in change, the process of change, the evaluation of change. The metaphorical language Ian used to describe brave leaders, was head, heart, and hands. What an fantastic way to capture the necessary elements for awesome leadership. Head, heart and hands. You logically support it, you believe in it, you demonstrate it. How does your leadership stack up against these? How can you support your leaders to have all of the head, heart and hands they need to be brave?
I would love to see you virtually in the Together Platform, the digital place where we can all get together when that’s physically impossible or challenging, in order to collaborate, to share, to learn with and from each other. If you aren’t already registered, head over to together.safetyontap.com and take a look around. I hope to chat with you inside the Together Platform.
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!