Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Goal Setting Challenge

The Goal Setting Challenge

By CatalinaNJB

Everybody makes their Safety Management System (SMS) goals, but nobody knows how to reach these goals. When any aviation regulatory oversight authority conducts SMS inspections of your operations and accepts your written airport or airline goals as conforming to regulatory requirements, they are actually accepting your wishes or dreams. Unless you have strategy in place for how to reach your goals, these goals are nothing else but wishes to be randomly achieved. When the regulatory oversight authority, in any jurisdiction, conducts inspections of your goals and establishing the validity of your goals, they could be inspecting for wishes and not for goals. A goal without a plan is only a wish. 

A team of random goal achievers
Canada was one of the first countries to regulatory implement an aviation Safety Management System. Part of the SMS regulations states: “A safety management system shall include a process for setting goals for the improvement of aviation safety and for measuring the attainment of those goals.” There is no definition in the Canadian Aeronautics Act or Canadian Aviation Regulation of what a goal is. It therefore is up to each operator to define what a goal is, or for an operator to conform to the opinion of an oversight inspector of what a goal is. One of Transport Canada expectation for goal is stated in their expectation document, or document review guide as: “Objectives and goals are consistent with the safety policy and their attainment is measurable.” It’s a simple task to write a wish that is consistent with the safety policy. However, it becomes a project task to write a goal that is consistent with the same policy. A goal without a commitment is just an emotion.

SMS is a businesslike approach to safety. When a business sets their goals, they also make plans how to make these goals happen. Imagine if the CEO of a business delivered to the board of director a business plan where the plan for achieving goals was to do nothing. If the CEO of any organization presented a plan that goals were to be randomly achieved, the board members would most likely not accept the plan. A business goal comes with defined actions, timelines and preferred, or expected results. If the goal is not reached, a business generally doesn’t change the goal to a lower bar but would change the approach of how to reach the goal.  A goal without an expected result is only a random chance result. 

Goal setting challenge.
Management and employees of an airport or airline may believe that do not have control over their own goals. This is as far from the truth or facts as it can be. You have full control over your goals unless you deliberately set an unattainable goal that someone else must reach for you. Take a few seconds and think about what the regulations requires when stating that the attainment of goals must be measurable. All it says is that you as the operator must document if your wishes came true or not. If the regulations required that you as an operator actually had control over your goals, it would include a statement to that fact. But it doesn’t. From a regulatory oversight point of view, the SMS regulation has failed SMS itself by not including this requirement. Compliance with a regulatory requirement is for the purpose of compliance only and not for operational result. However, by the omission of this regulatory requirement any airport or airline operators have been given an opportunity to establish your own goals and how to reach these goals. Without interference from the regulatory authority to determine if you are qualified to set your own goals or what these goals should be, your SMS has been given an opportunity to succeed by taking advantage of a 3-day personal development and goal setting challenges in a boardroom setting.

Send an email for the Goal Setting Challenge.

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