Seussian Safety Management

All three on my children have been brought into the world of reading partially through the works of Dr Seuss. I can't count the number of times I have read his books. As my kids have grown older, they have turned into the reader and read these amazing books back to me.

Just recently, my daughter read to me The Bike Lesson. The story is the delightful scenario of a dad teaching his son how to ride. He does this by professing a bunch of rules and lessons while breaking said rules or failing said lessons before turning his mistakes into examples of what not do to.

This story is one of my favourites for the very nerdy reason that towards the end of the book The Berenstains provide us with a short & succinct definition of safety. It's three simple stanzas that I think encapsulate modern safety management perfectly.

But instead of just repeating them here and doing some pseudo-intellectual analysis of a kid's book, I thought I would challenge myself to write a Seussian poem on the subject of safety management. I've co-opted a some of the existing material to set the scene - this is the text in italics.

The SMS Lesson

(A Seussian-inspired poem for aviation safety managers)

Come here, Small Bear

Here is something you've sought.


Look, Ma, look!

A brand-new airport.


Thanks, Dad, thanks!

For me, you say?

I'm going to run it

right away!


Not yet, not yet

not yet, my son...


First come the lesson

then the fun

Managing safety is

lesson number one.


To be a good leader,

to really know how,

you will have to learn

about safety now.


To be safe, Small Bear,

when your airport takes flight,

you can not just take

any road you like.


Before you take one

you must know...

...where that road

is going to go.


Define what it means

to be safe at your shop.

Your policy should be clear

and come from the top.


Those in charge of safety

should know what to do.

Accountabilities are key.

And for those that are new... should all be written down

in black or in blue.


Now picking your road

you should do in a group.

Lest you want to land

in some foul-smelling gloop.


For hazards abound

and try as you might,

unless you control risk,

you won't sleep at night.


But just doing this stuff

it's never enough


Check and review and audit and then...

..if anything goes wrong

find out what happened, my friend.


Let's stop there and talk

about a system that's just.

It looks beyond fault

for a system that's bust


For your team exists

in a world that you've made.

You've created a culture

that is formed by your shade.


Change is a constant

And things constantly move.

Managing this, should be

part of your groove.


For people to work

in your system today,

they need training and guidance

and coaching and play.


They'll be the ones

to make your 'port great

And when it is working

please don't hesitate...


... to shout safety for all,

shout it loud, shout it long.

Promote it with pride.

Make it your song.