Case Study - BaseLine©
How can systems thinking keep people safe?
We were looking at safety in the workplace for a large public sector client. We expected it to be a straightforward facilitation assignment.
The big picture was all about reducing lost working time by cutting down accidents. The Health and Safety team had run a 'Behavioural Safety' campaign, which they saw as reducing the number of incidents, and they asked us to facilitate a workshop to re-energise the initiative.
A change of tack
We know that people are more receptive to change when you give them firm, undisputed evidence. So we asked our client for more detailed data to analyse.
We used a simple statistical tool called BaseLine©, developed by our associate Julian Simcox. It works by taking time-ranged data and spotting the points when the whole system changes, called 'step changes'. In this case, we had figures for the amount of incidents which lost work time for the last seven years, broken down into three-monthly figures. And BaseLine© picked out four major step changes, shown by the red arrows below:
So what happened?
Presenting this data to the client broadened their focus from the Behavioural Safety campaign to the underlying reasons behind actual workplace changes in the previous seven years. It meant basing our workshops on looking at the changes that had made the biggest difference. And with 40 attendees from across the whole organisation, we really got to grips with what was happening on the ground when the changes happened.
Our client got some really powerful insights about what had - and hadn't - made a difference to their Health and Safety performance. So now they can do more of what works, and collect the data to tell what makes a difference. As their Health and Safety team leader said, 'the next time there’s a step change we will know about it - in real time, so we’ll have a much better chance to interpret the real cause.'