In our blog on setting up a Behavioral Based Safety system we suggested (in point 3) contacting others to try and learn from learn from experience. Whenever I’ve done this I’ve initially found the other firms’ management to be stand-offish and apparently feeling at some sort of commercial ‘risk’ as a result of my approach. I found managers often initially reluctant to talk because (a) they didn’t want to be seen to be helping a potential competitor and (b) they didn’t want to expose their weaknesses (as they perceived them to be). I went to some lengths to give them peace of mind that this was a collaborative exercise and I would be able to reciprocate in other similar ways. I guess I used the old adage that if I wanted something I had to give something first…
In any event the effect was transformative on my company at that time and, I think, on theirs. The single most important thing we saved was ‘time’. We were able to short circuit our learning and move straight to putting in place preventative systems that we hadn’t considered necessary. We also established a kind of trust and this has developed into further contact between the firms involved. we felt able to collaborate on other commercial and operational projects and some good personal relationships were established between us. Clearly this communication saved us all a great deal of money. We saved money because we were able to divert managers back on to other tasks more quickly AND we didn’t suffer the potential pitfalls that our partners had.
On occasions we ‘transferred lessons’ in a formal environment, meeting between line managers. On other occasions it was simply an exchange over a sandwich or on the golf course (I’m lousy at golf and the excuse of a ‘business meeting’ saved much embarrassment). The point is, it doesn’t really matter how you engage or communicate, you can even use LinkedIn for example, the whole point is make sure you’re communicating and where possible you avoid trying to reinvent the wheel.
I’m a great fan of the Harvard Business Review and this article here may help you get started
Please do give feedback and let me know how you got on – you can always bounce ideas of us here at Certainty Software too, if you’d like to!….Good luck!