The Zero Index

A Path to Sustainable Safety Excellence

by Colin Duncan

Number of pages: 234

Publisher: Behavioral Science Technology, Inc.

BBB Library: Operations Management

ISBN: 9780966756937

About the Author

He’s a famous speaker who presents at conferences around the world, discussing strategies for sustainable performance improvement and safety deployment.


Editorial Review

Achieving a truly zero-harm organization starts with taking a huge step back from our existing ideas and assumptions. This book introduces a state of functioning that we call Zero Index performance: the sustained practice of mitigating exposure to anyone who interacts with an organization and its activities and products–not just your employees but also your customers, vendors, visitors, and community.

Books on Related Topics

Wisdom to Share

Achieving a truly zero-harm organization starts with taking a huge step back from our existing ideas and assumptions.

Zero Index organizations are distinguished by their ability to take a big picture view of safety performance. In such organizations, safety isn’t a program but an integral business function that is influenced by–and, in turn, influences–operational execution.

An organization’s safety transformation isn’t just about practice but also about mindset. The more adept the organization becomes at the practice of safety, the less the organization views safety as a burden imposed by others.

Avoidance-driven organizations have two distinct stages of functioning, defined by how the organization views the role of safety performance in the business: 1. Safety is a burden. 2. Safety is a necessity.

Compliance-driven organizations consider safety to have some intrinsic value to the organization, albeit in a limited way.

Values-driven organizations have internalized safety to the point where safety characterizes the functioning of the organization. The predominant mode in a Values organization is safety as identity.

Fluency in safety as a strategy and an inherent understanding of safety’s place in the wider fabric of the organization give Values-driven organizations the agility to quickly adapt to and execute change.

In any area of performance, the rules and beliefs that govern our action and thinking determine the scope of our effort, the choices we make, and ultimately, the outcomes we achieve.

Picturing success is a way of defining what’s possible and how to get there.

Coworkers generally feel like part of the family; their engagement with each other affects their engagement with safety. This level of caring is specifically and behaviorally defined as an obligation—as a promise to intervene whenever any employee sees someone else in harm’s way.

The greater the value leaders place on people and relationships, the greater the value employee place on safety.

Safety professionals must develop fluency in change management methodology, the role of behavior in performance, culture, and leadership.

Root causes analyses of incidents show clearly that although an individual can be blamed, the real cause of any incident is almost always a failure of organizational systems.

Ensuring the effectiveness of safety execution is a function of the Organizational disciplines: Leadership, Culture, and Sustaining Systems.

Leadership influences the culture characteristics predictive of safety outcomes and determines the strength and longevity of safety systems. What leaders do, say, and decide communicates to others in the organization the place safety holds in everyday priorities.

Leaders model expectations of how people in the organization should be viewed – as commodities or as precious, intangible assets.

Leaders set the course for how the organization views injury causation. If leadership isn’t thinking upstream of injury, it’s unlikely that anyone else will.

Leadership training, development, and succession planning provide people with the means to do what we are asking them to do.

Rewards and recognition in particular shape people’s behavior with respect to organizational goals and initiatives.

The effective leader sees precisely what safety excellence looks like, articulates the vision, and conveys it in a compelling way throughout the organization.

The effective leader works well with other people, promotes cooperation and collaboration in reducing exposures to hazard, actively seeks input from people on the issues that affect them, and encourages others to implement their decisions and solutions for improving safety.

The effective leader is a great communicator. He encourages people to give honest and complete information about safety even when the information is unfavorable.

The effective leader provides usable feedback and recognizes people for their accomplishments.

The effective leader practices accountability. He gives people a fair appraisal of their efforts and results in safety, clearly communicates people’s roles in the safety effort, and fosters the sense that every person is responsible for the level of safety in his organizational unit.

Compare what you say you want done versus what’s actually being done right now; this gives a sense of the quality of the efforts, the reality on the ground, and the implications.

You must always remember that safety improvement isn’t about programs, initiatives, or projects. It’s about systemic, methodical disciplined management, oversight, execution, and sustained focus.