Our MP Media team has been busy publishing what they learned at the National Safety Council’s conference in Philadelphia. Infused with advice from safety gurus like Rosa Carrillo and Shawn Galloway and flush with new insight from expo presentations, our team came away with “new eyes” of safety awareness. Wrapping up the “Listening To Learn” series, INTO THE STREETS (video below) discusses their reaction to the world around them. And strangely enough, it includes an intellectual dance with street-art. I was curious. Why did Jordan Griska, the artist of the “Grumman Greenhouse Sculpture” located near the conference building, encourage our team to find a connection between his work of art and their experience at the safety conference? In this video, the team discusses Griska’s crashed airplane and their heightened sensitivity to workplace hazards.
This video touches on the power of workforce culture and its role in change management. The NSC conference attendees include Air Force pilots, nuclear engineers, and petrochemical pros. Particularly within the oil sands industry, managers are looking to train their leadership in appropriate relationship building techniques with their employees. And, safety programs are always in need of improvement.
Many “creatives” have an ability to view their environment differently. An American Psychological Association article explains how artists view their surroundings as a collage of perceptual attributes, such as shapes, colors, and value. This is in contrast to non-artistic induviduals who pay more attention to specific objects that stand out from the background. In college, my fine-art instructor asked us to go with our “new eyes” and find inspiration in the world of our work. Since artists are wired for sensitivity to context, they can bring a potential parallax view. They can give us valuable observation from a unique vantage-point, the possibility of serendipity, or a source for an elusive Eureka Moment!
But how can the potential for unique understanding be of value to a manager in the oil sands? I asked this question of Chuck Rice (LinkedIn Profile), the Process Safety Management (PSM) program manager for MetaPower Inc. He explained that workplace culture in the oil sands industry is no less fuzzy than that of the art world. Both are powerful, “soft”, and traditionally difficult to control. Managers in the Canadian Oil Sands are trying to develop excellence in their PSM programs and need to engage the power of culture to succeed in a sustainable way. As part of MetaPower’s proprietary methodology, process structure is designed to anticipate human violation and then use the deviations as coaching opportunities. The type of coaching applied can vary widely, but its intent is to spur “sense-making” within employees, individuals and groups. Rice believes that art can in fact, be a useful coaching tool when properly developed. Our media team discovered that artwork can provide a unique understanding when broadly or finely applied…. even to the life and death business of safety in the oil sands.