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Executive summary – Rethinking paradigms of change in HSE? A positive…and essential OVERTURN!

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Complete article available:

The extraordinary context created by the global sanitary crisis around Covid-19 has constrained individuals, organizations, states and associations to radically modify our way of thinking, behaving and organizing ourselves to unite in a common cause. This drove us to urgent actions to fight the pandemic thanks to the extraordinary mobilization of health professionals as well as millions of anonymous workers. This period has led to much reflection and conversations around “nothing will ever be the same again”, “we need to radically change our methods”, … Unfortunately, many of these good (and necessary) intentions could be caught up by the reality and the desire to come back to “normal life”, meaning “like before”. This imposed time of confinement leading itself to reflection, I have questioned myself about this notion of change which comes up repeatedly as a leitmotif particularly in these troubled times. What are our classical approaches to change, more specifically in the field of Health, Safety and Environment (we will use the acronym HSE in this article)? May we imagine a radically different way to conceive and live the change in HSE?

In this article we start by identifying the traditional paradigms of change which we refer to as “myths” and point out implications for current change processes in HSE.


· People naturally resist change

· Change is initially motivated by failures, problems and weaknesses

· People seek change when unsatisfied

· People’s actions are based on past incidents and past events

· Trust is created through exchange between individuals

· Communication builds commitment


As a whole, these traditional paradigms influence directly the approach companies take to drive HSE change within an organization.

This approach can be summarized through the following structuring patterns:

Let us be very clear, we do not imply that risk assessment, implementation of norms or incident investigation are not necessary and important. However, experience has demonstrated that the traditional approach to change hardly generates a sustainable performance nor does it create enthusiasm and engagement. Let’s now, challenge the traditional change myths and highlight which paradigms may guide HSE change processes for the future.


· Change, an opportunity for naturally bringing out the best in each person

· Motivation to change rests on strengths

· Change is easier when we feel strong

· Positive human action is necessary for an inspiring future

· Trust, essential to the success of the change outcome, is gained when people are actively involved in the design, the innovation and the doing

· Intrinsic motivation comes from doing and propels the heart of change


Let’s now take these new paradigms and see to which new change approach they may lead to. Based on these dynamic foundations, we may structure the evolution of the prevention culture around the following principles:

It is to this evolution that we invite organizations and companies that wish to progress toward prevention, moving from a reactive culture to a proactive culture, without artifices, relying first and foremost on the action principles described hereabove.

In this article, it is our wish to demonstrate the extent to which paradigms structure our individual and collective mindset and have a direct influence on how we drive change in HSE. Is it to say that there is a “right” and a “wrong” way of doing?

Absolutely not. Many of the means implemented in a classical approach are indispensable. We simply invite you to identify the paradigms that are at work in your organization, to understand how these translate into your change management. By doing so, we may open our minds to a different manner of thinking about change in order to seek new ways to experience (and let others experience) change in HSE. This is a major challenge allowing us to approach these new times in the best possible way. No doubt that this renewed approach will also help us to invent a new post-pandemic future. Each and every one of us stands so much to gain…

Discover more with the full article available here:

Olivier Leroux, vice-president. May 2020

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