Friday, November 18, 2011

Moneyball and Safety Management Systems

Nick Swisher (from Wikipedia)

In this post I  connect the book Moneyball with shipboard SMS (Safety Management Systems).

Moneyball, (stealing from Wikipedia) "is a book about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Beane The premise of the books is that the collected wisdom of baseball insiders  is subjective and often flawed."

The conventional wisdom was, that to win ball games you need good players, and to get good players you used traditional scouts and you paid top dollar. But, in the case of the Oakland A's, with a low budget, they couldn't  pay top dollar. The key, as my old port engineer used to say is, "ya gotta be smart".  Being smart in this case meant measuring the right thing, player performance and scoring metrics, the right way. To measure is to know.

The link to SMS  comes from a line in the book: "it's looking at the process rather then the outcomes". The key to winning games was, stick with the program,  follow the process.  

During the game, general manager Billy Beane,  based on what he knew from objective measures, (sabermetrics), focused on the process. For instance he wanted the player at bat to get on base. The surest,  safest  way to get on base is to get a  walk. Players on the other hand, focused on the outcome,  tended  to swing at pitches they shouldn't, trying for the home run.(more here  Moneyball at Slate .)

Shipboard, the process is the Safety Management System which  are: "instructions and procedures to ensure safe operation of ships" -  there's more to it of course but that's the heart of it.

Many mariners tend to be  impatient with forms and paperwork. Often these "git er done"  mariners consider SMS to  have little relationship to the actual  work but view it instead as a separate set of  tasks  that have to be done  in addition to the job.

That's the wrong approach. A good SMS  provides the process to arrive safely at the intended outcome.

This is from Capt.Ben Dinsmore at The Maritime Site, the  post Increased Safety Measures and Performance Are Not Counter Productive. 

"I believe there is a misconception in the maritime industry (or any industrial environment for that matter) when it comes to operational safety and performance. While most people agree that safety takes priority EVERYTIME, there are a few people who suggest an increased safety focus is often at the expense of performance (productivity, downtime, etc.).  This is simply not the case."
 That's right. Stick with the program, follow the process.

There is  git er done and there is being safe but to do both you have to follow the process, ya gotta be smart.



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