How Government Leaders Can Stay Ahead of Security Threats

government leaders security threats

Since 9-11, there have been 156 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, according to data from And though our country is safer today due to enhanced security measures, new threats arise every day.

Rapidly evolving technology only underscores this critical need to stay ahead of the curve. Gartner estimates cyber security spending will top $113 billion by 2020, and that number will continue to climb.

But, ‘staying ahead of the curve’ is a big challenge when dealing with safety and security in an unpredictable environment. And few people understand this better than Mike O’Neil, a 22- year veteran of the New York City Police Department and the first Commanding Officer of the NYPD Counterterrorism Division.

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Using Technology to Support a Culture of Safety

Using Technology to Support a Culture of Safety

There is an average of 12 job-related fatalities every day in the U.S., according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 893 incidents are listed on their website so far in 2016 alone, each involving a serious injury or fatality to one or more employees.

If you spend every workday sitting in front of your computer with the occasional walk to the break room to top off your coffee, safety likely is not top of mind. Yet, for millions of workers across the globe, their jobs can put them in some extremely high-risk environments where valuing safety can mean the difference between life and death.

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Creating a Culture of Safety: More Than a Kitschy Catchphrase

creating a culture of safety

You’ve probably seen it before: a well-meaning cartoon safety poster hanging in your company warehouse about ladder safety; complete with a catchy slogan like, “while on a ladder, never step back to admire your work.”

Reminders like these are good for a chuckle, but are they actually effective?

All too often, organizations espouse the value of safety by pasting the walls with posters like these, making safety one of the organization’s core values while meeting only the minimum requirements for safety awareness, training and protective equipment.

Unfortunately, the critical importance of safety is seldom taken seriously unless there’s a serious accident in the workplace.

3 Misconceptions About Safety Culture

The term safety culture, coined in 1988, has become a very common concept in the world of safety, and for good reason.

As evidenced by the many significant accidents and incidents over the years, even though organizations may say safety is important, the underlying culture of the organization puts safety down on the list of priorities.  A company may even have the systems in place to track safety and to meet regulations imposed on them, but safety isn’t what is truly valued at the end of the day or what drives day-to-day behavior in the field.

There are a number of recent incidents around the world that leave me wondering: if organizations are talking about safety culture all the time, why aren’t we able to drive safety values and thinking into their DNA?

Why aren’t more organizations able to embrace safety culture in a meaningful and sustainable way?  Here are 3 misconceptions that are keeping organizations from truly embracing safety into their culture:

1. Although many people use the term “safety culture”, the current methods for assessing and transforming culture tend to fall very heavily on the safety side and less so on the culture side.

In order to truly drive safety as a value in ways that change behavior at all levels in an organization, it’s time for the field to acknowledge a critical need to bring safety and culture into more of a balance in the assessment and transformation of organizations.

2. The way in which we intervene to drive safety performance needs to be turned on its head.  Addressing the symptoms without addressing the root causes of unsafe behavior doesn’t create sustainable improvement.

This is not to suggest that this shift in approach is not happening.  One example of a cultural evolution is the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), developed for use in the aviation industry by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Integrating a completely new system into the DNA of airlines made it possible for companies to identify risks before they result in accidents, thereby giving them the ability to proactively address potential hazards.  This process also fundamentally changed the way in which safety is viewed in organizations.  Rather than being something that people hide away for fear of punishment, employees are rewarded (not be punished) for voluntarily disclosing near misses and breaches of safety before they come to light in some other way.

3. The term “culture of safety” creates the impression that safety is the only positive outcome of understanding and shaping a culture.

Contrarily, research shows that organizations that create clarity and alignment about what they stand for, what they value, and how people work together, not only achieve better safety performance but they also tend to pull ahead of their competitors in metrics such as sales growth, market share, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction and operational performance.

At the end of the day, creating a culture of safety is not about catchy slogans, posters, or PSA’s. It must become a part of your organization’s DNA.

If you truly want to create a culture that values safety as a key aspect of success, you must begin to tip the scales and find the balance between safety and culture. Only then will you be able to move meaningful, sustainable change around the importance of safety in your organization.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Workplace Safety Doesn’t Start With Punishment – Forbes

workplace safety culture

Your chemistry teacher probably had numerous safety rules for students. But similar protection protocols don’t always exist in the workplace.

When disaster strikes in the office, knee-jerk reactions rooted in blame and punishment aren’t good for anyone. Instead, produce a culture of workplace safety by analyzing all the factors in an incident and adopting a report-friendly process. After all, learning from mistakes can prevent future blunders.

In this article, Chris Cancialosi discusses why you need a culture of safety and describes how to produce and sustain this type of culture.

Data + Culture = A New Approach for Safety

In my previous two posts (here and here), I talked about how the use of data enhances our ability to understand culture. In this post, I’d like to expand on that a bit further and provide some real world context.

gothamCulture is passionate about safety; in fact, we recently worked with several clients to address safety concerns within their organizations. There is evidence to suggest that workplace safety is not only essential to maintaining the health and wellbeing of employees but also can improve a business’s bottom line. For organizations with safety concerns, addressing these challenges often necessitates a change to the underlying culture.

In our work with clients, data often takes the form of text-based inputs from interviews, focus groups, and site observations. While text-based data provides a wealth of information, it can be challenging to extract the most important pieces. One widely used method is text mining, which can be used to identify major themes among the interviews. In the example text cloud above we used text mining to look at overall morale. A couple key words jump out such as “antagonistic”, “complacent”, “change”, and “unsafe”. This is supported by key ngrams such as “staff extremely difficult”, “tough change culture”, and “question unsafe bad”. These data points seem to suggest that while change is needed to improve overall safety there are underlying tensions within the organization that make it difficult to discuss and implement improved safety measures.

This data is useful in understanding broad issues and challenges in organizations; however, it does not show connections and correlations which are helpful in determining strategies best suited to address the issue. Correlations are a product of quantitative (numeric) data, to identify correlations we transform our text-based data into quantitative data. While there are a number of methods being pioneered, a simple method we have leveraged is using text clouds to identify themes and then determine which interviews, focus groups, and site observations include those themes. Interestingly, this method produces fairly reliable results.

The network diagram above shows a number of correlations that exist across the data. The size of the circle relates to the number of correlations the “theme” has, the size of the line relates to the strength of the correlation, and the color relates to different categories of themes (blue=training, green=morale/culture, yellow=safety). Here we get a better idea of the different dynamics within the organization. For instance, while there is a connection between training and safety, the elements connecting those two themes are a hierarchical culture and poor morale. In this case, it is not enough to update policies or develop new training opportunities, the organization must also address its hierarchical elements which seem to be linked to poor morale, inadequate communications, and a sense that the organization is uncaring.

Organizations are a lot more like ecosystems than they are machines. Addressing challenges (whether safety, mergers, or customer relations) requires a lot more than turning a wrench or drawing a schematic; it involves understanding relationships between the values, personalities, and perspectives that exist across the organization. Traditionally, most people have felt that data analysis is a little out of place when looking at culture, but, as we’ve shown, it is an effective tool that can save time and reveal compelling insights.

Color Your Culture Picture with Data

We live in a world of data. Every day we are inundated with more and more information. In fact, the internet alone is estimated to comprise about 1.2 Zettabytes of information (that’s about 2.6 billion times the size of the average computer hard drive). We use data to help us make decisions in many parts of life from where to go to dinner, what schools to send our kids to, or where to invest. The use of data in business planning and operations is just beginning to take off and is expected to increase exponentially as data storage costs continue to decline.

So what exactly does this have to do with culture? Surprisingly a lot. Organizations regularly collect large sums of data regarding their workforce and operations. Some common types of information include retention and recruitment numbers, workforce size, sales figures, and customer and supplier orders.

Each of these data points tells a story about what is happening in the organization. The key is to make meaning of this information by identifying connections and correlations between data points. For example, “Big Box” Inc. discovered the following connections following an analysis of its culture and operations:

  • Sales is driven by customer satisfaction, overall safety compliance, and employee retention.
  • Retention is driven by employee satisfaction, employee satisfaction is closely associated with safe work environments and the availability to opportunities to mature skills.
  • Safety compliance is closely linked to the maturity of the processes that govern the company.

By understanding these connections we have a more colorful picture of how the moving pieces are interrelated. Using the example above, our individual data points are now connected in a network of relationships where each individual part impacts the whole. For instance, improving employee retention not only requires us to improve professional development opportunities but also to closely examine the safety of the work environment. That in turn compels us to look closer at our processes and how we use them to manage the organization. To address a specific problem, we have to understand the system and how it functions.

Data isn’t just for business intelligence departments. The wealth of data (both quantitative and qualitative) we can access today makes our understanding of our culture much richer and nuanced. If we can use data to peel through the layers of our culture, leaders are able to address core issues earlier and employees will be more satisfied with their work, and all stakeholders will have the necessary information to tell better stories about where they work and why it matters.