Sunday, October 4, 2020

Qualities Of Your Winning SMS Team

 Qualities Of Your Winning SMS Team

By Catalina9

Building your winning Safety Management Team (SMS) team is more important today than it ever was before. SMS is no longer just another safety program but has become the single most important system for departmental oversight and safety in operations. Organizational processes and operational culture do not change within departments but are laterally equal throughout any department. An organizational culture are the faces of their Board Members, Owners, and CEO which does not change between departments. Putting on a different hat might work when taking on different positions in an enterprise, but the magic hat does not move a business culture between positions. There is only one organizational hat when it comes to the organizational structure, and that hat given to everyone by the CEO. 

An effective Safety Management System is a businesslike approach to safety. A businesslike approach to any enterprises is applied throughout the business and not just to selective areas of operations, one person, or one department. A key component of the SMS is to operate with a Just Culture, which is different than the non-punitive reporting culture. SMS regulations require that both airlines and airports comply with their safety policy, that they operate with processes for goal setting and goal achievement; processes identification of hazards, including defining safety critical areas and safety critical functions in the hazard registry, a process for reporting of incidents and accidents; a process for training and competency; a document design of their SMS; a quality assurance program; processes for SMS audits and reviews; and a process for any additional requirements, which includes all airport or airline operations within the enterprise.  

The SMS team are the Accountable Executive, Flight Operations, Maintenance, or if an airport the Airport General Manager and Airside Supervisor, the SMS Management and Quality Assurance Management. A winning SMS team feel positive about themselves to the degree they feel they are in control of their own destiny. In addition, a winning SMS team expects their decisions to affect processes and impact operations. They also understand that the outcome of their decisions may not always be what they had expected or planned for. An effective and winning SMS team works with a 95% confidence level to leave room for safety improvements. A winning SMS team is a happy team and cannot wait to move on with their next challenge. 

The compliance gap is the gap between the action itself and the end result.

There is a regulatory compliance gap when the regulator is enforcing regulatory compliance at a tempo faster than what an enterprise can comprehend. This does not imply that an enterprise should accept non-compliance with the regulations, but that the regulations are based on a static-state operations and there is a lag, or a compliance gap, between the first movement and the compliance analysis. This compliance gap remains constant throughout any process and if observed, or inspected prior to the data analysis, it will generate a finding. When a third-party is imposing operational changes, such as a consultant, customer or the regulator, their CAP may not be effective if they do not count for the compliance gap. The same concept is also true for the Accountable Executive, who in a business-like environment may make spontaneous decisions. When spontaneous decisions are made in a business environment, they may be fatal to the business itself. The same principle is applicable to a Safety Management System where there are no good reasons to make uninformed, or spontaneous decisions. An effective SMS is a businesslike approach to safety and should be the guidance and template for all other business decisions. The winning team of a Safety Management System is the hub, rather than the umbrella of an enterprise.

If the SMS is the umbrella of all operational systems, it becomes a tool that covers or protects from above. When applied to the SMS system, the umbrella is an overarching system encompassing all other systems within the organization. If a department or person under the umbrella assigned bias responsibilities, authorities, or strength, that authority may skew the SMS in a bias direction or cause an undetectable drift away from expected safety results. 

An enterprise may look at its SMS as an umbrella or a wheel. If the SMS is under an umbrella, the umbrella protects from above and the strength of the SMS is in the person carrying the umbrella, or the Accountable Executive. When the SMS is under an umbrella there is little or no room for changes, except for staying within the protection of the umbrella itself. When looking at the SMS as being under an umbrella, the safe spot in the SMS is where the Accountable Executive is with safest travel to blindly follow their directions. 

A wheel in harmony may endure approaching hazards or obstructions.

If an SMS is built as a wheel, the SMS may travel in any direction where their data points to. A wheel is built up by a hub, spokes, and a protective surface. The hub and spokes of the wheel is the strength of the wheel, or the SMS, while the protective surface, or rubber (wood or steel in the old days) is what carries the load of the SMS. However, the protective surface is dependent on a strong hub with strong spokes to function. 

An enterprise operating under an umbrella becomes a place where departments and personnel will play it safe without venture outside of the protection of the Accountable Executive. Bureaucratic organizations function well under an umbrella and within the safe spot of their leader. Safety may be their priority, but it is not paramount within such an organizational structure. Short term fixes, putting out fires or ensuring that the correct checkboxes are filled becomes their primary tasks. It is irrelevant if this is a large conglomerate of an organization, or a simple small enterprise. In this type of organization, it’s easier to reject suggestions for improvements and remain at status quo even if there is a high probability of a disaster at the next fork in the road.  

An enterprise operating as a wheel becomes a place where departments and personnel must make decisions to steer the wheel out of harms way. The Accountable Executive, as the hub, has ensured that the spokes are trained and are knowledgeable within their area of expertise to maintain a strength for the wheel to carry. When looking at the SMS as a wheel, the Accountable Executive is a part of the total solution.  Safety may also be their priority but is also paramount to the strength of their organizational structure. Short term fixes, putting out fires or ensuring that the correct checkboxes are filled in are still required tasks, but their primary task is to steer the wheel in the safest direction while arriving at the fork in the road. The direction this SMS takes is the calculated safest direction, with a 95% confidence level that the best option was selected. While an umbrella-organization feel their highest performance level is best at status quo, a wheel-organization preforms best while maintaining alertness for changes and makes ongoing decisions to ensure the safest path of travel. In this type of organization there is forward-looking accountability within a coherent system. 

Members of a winning SMS team has learned to set aside emotions and personal differences. They are looking at every hazard as a challenge to conquer and overcome. Members of a winning SMS team embraces changes and see a new opportunity in every difficulty. However, a superior behavior of a person within a Winning SMS Team is their individual ability to accept conclusions and move forward towards the next fork in the road. 


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