Here are a few marketing slogans—12 simple words—for organizations to use internally, with their customers and the public. Give them meaning and these brief phrases will keep nightmares where they belong—in the realm of bad dreams, not reality.
Explore don’t ignore. Before catastrophes, individuals see warning signals—a statistical uptick in bad outcomes, diminishing attention to quality, customer complaints, anonymous tips and other signs—that there is some problem that may be surfacing. Too often, the natural reaction is to ignore the issue and assume it’s not serious rather than to recognize that a serious hazard might be surfacing. Getting people to explore rather than ignore is the key to changing this pattern.
Share it, don’t bury it. Sometimes, even after individuals find out about a serious problem, they keep it to themselves. They don’t want to be seen as a troublemaker and are more fearful about their fate, or that of others, than the harm to the public and their organization, which their silence can enable. Unless people share what they learn, their knowledge is useless.
We’ll fix, not nix. Individuals know their organizations will act when problems surface. Their fear is that they will act in the wrong way by covering up problems, ignoring them or punishing the persons who brought concerns forward. There’s a reason why the phrase “shooting the messenger” has a common meaning.
It’s vital to give employees at all levels the core solid belief that identifying problems and bringing them forward is as important as any other routine business responsibility from safely testing and manufacturing foods, beverages and medicine to delivering high-quality health care and pastoral services.
Just 12 words can help do that, provided they’re backed up by leadership support, commitment and principled follow through at every level.