Friday, February 7, 2020

The 7 C’s To A Successful SMS

The 7 C’s To A Successful SMS
By Catalina9

It’s impossible for a Safety Management System (SMS) to fail since it’s painting a picture or your organization and composing the music to be played. Your SMS is a true reflection of your enterprise.  Wolfgang Beethoven was a composer and Leonardo da Vinci was a painter. Beethoven couldn’t paint and da Vinci couldn’t compose. Both artists could not fail since their results were a true reflection of their skills and talents. No one would expect anything else. However, today we are expecting a Safety Management System to produce results which it’s not skilled or talented for. Beginning with the Accountable Executive, it only takes an organizational title for a person to have full authority of any and all safety decisions in both small or large organizations. When unskilled personnel are accepting organizational positions beyond their capabilities, they are asking Beethoven to paint and da Vinci to compose.

Skills and talent impact the outcome.

An SMS in itself cannot fail, but unskilled decisions makers have profound impact of producing outcomes which they later don’t appreciate. It goes like this: If you drive down a highway at high speed on an icy road, for a skilled and trained person you are expected to end up in the ditch sooner or later. For a person without talents or skills to drive in these conditions, the fact, or outcome, is not known until after the incident. I know, I’ve been there, on a remote road and in the ditch 200 Km to the nearest community.   

The first C of a successful SMS is Commitment. Commitment has a magic and positive impact on human behavior. Commitment the foundation of goal setting and goal achievement plans. Airports and airlines establish goals without an integrated goal 

achievement plan. One goal could be to have zero runway incursions. When the goal is established, they sit down and wait…, and wait… and wait for their goal to come true without a goal achievement plan. Then one day there is an incursion and the SMS is being blamed and ridiculed. All the SMS did was to paint a true picture of the organization. How could anyone expect a goal to come true without a plan of how to make it happen? Except, when the only requirement to make an SMS decision is a title, there is no commitment to safety in operations. Their goals are only empty wishes and fantasies of virtual results. A commitment is a fact, and after it’s written down the mind takes ownership and initiates actions to move in a direction to achieve a result. When you turn the focus away from the commitment your mind moves in a direction away from where you want to go. When you move away from the commitment you have arrived at the fork in the road on a path to an undesirable outcome. It’s vital for success to recognize the fork in the road.   

The second C of a successful SMS is Clarity. Clarity also has a magic and positive impact on human behavior. Clarity is the foundation of leadership motivation. In an SMS world there is no difference between management and employees. Everyone is a person with roles and responsibilities within the SMS. However, there is still an organizational hierarchy where the tasks within these positions falls into a timeline of tasks. A task of the CEO or AE is to accept the Safety Policy before any other tasks in the process are initiated. The hierarchy is not an authoritarian hierarchy, but a hierarchy of prioritized tasks delegated to the different positions. Roles and responsibilities are delegated and not assigned since all results links back to the Safety Policy. It is vital for success that the Accountable Executive recognizes that tasks are clearly defined and delegated with a superior leadership motivation skill. It’s vital for success to recognize leadership motivation.        

Competence is hard work
The third C of a successful SMS is Competence. Competence also has a magic and positive impact on human behavior. Competence is the foundation of success. People love to perform job-tasks they are competent to perform and produce these tasks with an exceptional outcome. Competence builds organizations of supreme qualities and personnel who comprehend their roles and responsibilities. Competence is gained by incremental learning and improvements. It’s a fiction to believe that a task learned once is all it takes to be competent in that task. After a task is learned for the first time, any variables within that task must be included in future training activities. In addition, reviews of learned tasks are crucial to produce the expected outputs. Competence leads to comprehension, which again leads to accountability. It’s vital for success to recognize comprehension of systems.  

The fourth C of a successful SMS is Concentration, which also has a magic and positive impact on human behavior. Concentration is the foundation of effectiveness. We all know the saying that if you want a job done, ask a busy person. The reason that a busy person gets the job done is their ability to concentrate and focus on what they are doing. If a focus needs to be diverted from one job to another, the first job wasn’t that important in the first place. The Pareto Principle for success is to work on the vital few rather than the trivial many. Human nature is to take the path of least resistance and it’s much more comfortable to work on several easy tasks with low priority, rather than the difficult task of high priority. When applying the Pareto Principle to SMS and safety, 20% of tasks completed generates 80% of safety. It’s vital for success to recognize the 20% of tasks that generate safety, or desired outcome.    

The fifth C of a successful SMS is Constraint. Knowing and understanding the effects of constraints has a magic and positive impact on human behavior. Constraint is the foundation of improvements. In organizations where constraints are disregarded, avoided or ignored human performance becomes apathetic. There are always constraints, or hurdles in the road ahead. When constraints are avoided there is no path for a person, or organization to move forward to the next task. The hurtle in the path is there if you like it or nor, or if it is disregarded or not. Constraints and hurtles often come disguised as hazards, excuses, explanations, not-my-job or as location or time-constraints. In a competitive market, the best approach is to learn and comprehend about your competitors. Constraints are competition to your safety activities. It’s vital for success to recognize constraints and hurdles.

Never give up.
The sixth C of a successful SMS is Continue. In an organization where a continued approach is applied there is a magic and positive impact on human behavior. Continue is the foundation of a just culture. In a just culture there is trust, learning, accountability and information sharing. A just culture is built on data collected. Analyzed data is turned into information. Information is turned into knowledge, which again is turned into comprehension. Continuous learning is to build on current knowledge and comprehension derived from data collected. Continuous improvements is to turn ineffective processes into effective processes. Continual improvements might be another avenue to take, where an outdated process is replaced with an up to date process. As an example of continual improvements could be to move from a paper-based SMS to a fully automated SMS electronic software. When improvements are made, the past processes are not eliminated or discarded, but serve as a foundation for the next step. It’s vital for success to recognize a continuous approach as opposed to a reactive approach. 

The seventh C of a successful SMS is Courage. Courage has a magic and positive effect on human behavior. Courage is the foundation of visions. Without courage there is no vision for the future. Human nature is complacency and continue today what we did yesterday. Courage is to take on tasks and activities that the SMS society, aviation industry in general, public opinions or organizational expectations have deemed inappropriate and ineffective. As an example, it was not appropriate to install safety equipment in vehicles as Preston Tucker did in his Tucker 48 vehicle. It was not until the society accepted safety and spearheaded by Volvo that safety improvements were allowed. This same concept applies to the aviation industry. It takes courage for a CEO to delegate roles and responsibilities that directly affects the CEO. The path of least resistance for the CEO to make their own safety decision, even if the decision leads to disasters. Courage is not to change for the sake of the change itself, but it’s to make appropriate implementations based on data, information, knowledge and comprehension of the systems. It’s vital for success to recognize when courage is no longer an option but a requirement.

The 7 C’s are the foundation of a successful SMS.
1)    A commitment is accountability which conforms to regulatory requirements and the safe operations of an airport or aircraft.
2)    Clarity as leadership motivation leads down a path where available options are comprehended.
3)    Competence equals success where individuals accept personal achievements as a victory.
4)    Concentration is to build safety cases for effectiveness in operations.
5)    Constraints is to know your competition to improve above the safety risk level bar.
6)    Continue is an organizational operational concept and forward-looking safety policy of continuous improvements.
7)    Courage are visions to be enacted on when options becomes requirements.

Implementation of the 7 C’s to a successful SMS will open your doors to a whole new world of effectiveness in safety.




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