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Richard Keltner

By Richard Keltner
Safety Specialist, Global Aerospace, Inc.

By Chip Heath and Dan Heath (Broadway Books)
1st Edition 305pg $26
IBSN 978-0385-52875-7

I’ve seen a lot of good safety ideas come and go during my thirty five years of flying. Many of those good ideas came and went (under an alias or two) more than once. Remember Deming’s model and the sometimes incomprehensible requirements to chart and measure almost everything in sight? SMS is reconstituted TQM. TQM evolved from the Japanese manufacturing model. The military grabbed parts of TQM and, following the nuclear engineering folks, developed ORM. CRM is refined from "Communications Skills Workshops." CRM and Industrial Psychology morphs into Human Factors.

Sadly, we lost a significant amount of traction and even lives when these programs sputtered, caught fire and then expired only to be reinvented. Often the good ideas were scuttled and they sank beneath the accumulated weight of stubbornness, institutionalized resistance to change, middle-management fear, and poor direction.

Much of that pain could have been avoided if the Heath brothers had written their books a half century earlier. But don’t blame Chip and Dan; they weren’t around fifty years ago. But they are here now. Thank goodness. About time. Maybe just in time… for you.

If you are integrating a new program (Safety or otherwise) into an existing organization, do yourself a huge favor and read this book. If you want the boss to buy a new airplane or shell out for a department expansion, read this book before you push your great idea up the chain. Now, listen to me; IF YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR COORDINATING AND IMPLEMENTING A NEW SAFETY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, READ THIS BOOK. PLEASE.

"Switch" is about managing change, overcoming resistance, and creating buy in. You will learn the importance of motivating the Elephant (the emotional and irrational part of the team), providing clear guidance to the Rider (the rational and endlessly planning part) and making sure the team’s path is clear of obstacles. You will learn the importance of balance. The Heaths use real-world examples to illustrate basic strategies and I promise that from time to time as you read, you will slap your forehead and mutter, "Of course!"

Warning. If you read this book you may be compelled to assault those around you by reading passages of "Switch" aloud. You may be compelled to recount some of the more fantastic scientific results presented as allegories. You might become one of a growing number of "Switch" geeks; a drum beater; an apostle. My wife can confirm that this is indeed a risk.

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