Aircraft Maintenance Technology

JUN-JUL 2018

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36 JUNE/JULY 2018 AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY SAFETY MATTERS Four Ways to Champion a Positive Safety and Quality Culture Positive Signals: Proximity, priority, personnel, and promotion By Dr. Marc Szepan Over the past decades, aviation businesses have made major investments into state-of-the-art safety and quality management systems, including commitment of substantial financial, technical, organizational, and human resources. Often, these efforts have gone significantly above and beyond the level of minimum regulatory compliance. In many cases, however, returns on investment in the areas of safety and quality management are significantly lower than they could be. Some aviation businesses inadvertently undermine the effectiveness of their safety and quality management systems by failing to put in place credible signaling mechanisms that highlight their commitment to a positive safety and quality culture. The present article suggests four ways via which leaders of aviation businesses can champion their commitment to safety and quality within their organizations. Importance of Signaling Sometimes, effectiveness of aviation safety and quality management systems is primarily viewed as a function of making available adequate financial, technical, organizational, and human resources. Indeed, without any doubt, under-resourcing is not a viable approach to safety and quality management. However, adequate resourcing should be viewed as a necessary, but by no means as a sufficient, precondition for achieving excellence in aviation safety and quality management. Implementing and sustaining successful safety and quality management systems is as much contingent on credible leadership commitment as on adequate resourcing. Credible leadership commitment, in turn, is a function of highly visible, consistent, sustained, and thereby effective signaling on the part of the leadership team vis-a-vis its rank-and-file workforce. Effective signaling is far more than — actually the opposite of — token gestures. Effective signaling works when aviation leaders walk the talk and set the right tone in areas that count. I suggest the following four ways — the “Four Ps” — to champion safety and quality management and to signal in a credible and effective manner commitment to a positive aviation safety and quality culture: Proximity, Priority, Personnel, and Promotion. Proximity Have you ever had the experience of joining an organization in one of its most “important” functional areas, inquiring about your new office, and after a long search locating such at the end of a corridor in the basement of a building at the edge of the corporate campus far away from the C-suite building? If so, what was the first thought that came to mind? “Wow, great to be here! This must be a truly important and powerful function!” Or “What on earth did I get myself into? Why is an “important” group located in mushroom farming territory?” DR. MARC SZEPAN is a Lecturer at the University of Oxford Saïd Business. Previously, he was a senior executive at Lufthansa. His primary professional experience has been in leading technical and digital aviation businesses in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford.

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