Three Ways to Avoid Advice and Decision Failure

In safety, advice is always given and decisions are dispensed daily. Half of the time, we’re wrong.

Researcher Paul Nutt studied 356 decisions made at medium/large organizations. Half of the decisions failed, either by being changed within two years or a lack of implementation. Why? Nutt found in a majority of the failures, leaders had limited the alternatives down to one binary choice. Either yes or no. This way or no way.

How do EHS pros avoid this trap of the binary choice?

1. Identify more than one solution: More choices increased the success rate of decisions by 30% in Nutt’s study (e.g. use the entire hierarchy of controls to build alternatives.)

2. Keep an open mind: Remember that feeling of the first day on the job? That uncomfortable feeling is what an open mind is like…and it’ll drive better options.

3. Ask questions: Delay the auto reflex to give advice. Better questions lead to better alternatives (and greater success).


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