What’s the most important thing you should focus on to improve safety culture? Well, the stock answer is leadership. Get that right and you make a big difference in the long term because culture is set from the top of an organisation. But I’ve been thinking about what’s number two on the list. So I’d like to make the argument for the massive impact of social influence on defining culture.
It’s pretty obvious when you think about it; that a manager influences so much in an organisation, but what about your peers? How much of an influence do they have on you, and how much influence does that have in an organisation?
Lizz writes about this in her article about the influence of conformity but I’d like to give you a technology spin on this by drawing your attention to the world of social media.
What’s interesting about social media technology is that never before in human history have so many people been connected in such an organic way. The internet changed everything from a knowledge sharing perspective, but what social media has done is given an influencing voice to that knowledge sharing.
Suddenly, interconnected groups of people across the globe have taken issues, debates, media and knowledge and used that influence to change not just local cultural perspective but global cultural perspective.
To see this in action at a political level take a look at Avaaz.org, the global campaigning group. Global leaders now have to deal with the social influences of millions of instantly galvanized people when an issue matters to them. The stories here are fascinating whether you believe in a cause or not, and ones where the leaders weren’t setting the cultural tone – the global social conscience driven by Avaaz influenced policy in a dramatic way.
In many ways it’s the story of any big social change but the big difference is how technology increases its speed and reach.
Within our clients’ organisations there are already strong social norms and when we run culture change programmes what we’re effectively trying to do is shift those and build a different social influence. So why not use the same tools to try and achieve similarly dramatic results?
Well, we developed Engage to do just that, so get ready for the safety revolution! With the right technology, I’m encouraging organisations to use the power of a connected employee population to drive a socially driven change towards world class safety culture.