The company I work for offers PSM software and services. That won’t mean much to any of you, so here is a brief description of PSM (please don’t go to sleep): it stands for Process Safety Management. It is a single regulation found in the massive OSHA Code of Federal Regulations (29 CFR 1910.119). It requires companies that store or use hazardous chemicals to comply with a number of different elements in order to protect worker safety, maintain the integrity of the actual process (piping, etc.) and continually ensure that updates, changes, and additions are done appropriately. Within this single regulation, there are 14 elements, each of which integrate and overlap each other (on purpose) so that the overall chemical process is kept up to date. Some of these elements include employee participation (the need for everyone to be involved and on the same page), process safety information (technical information related to the process, calculations, drawings, etc.), operating procedures, management of change, incident investigation, emergency response planning, major studies and analysis, and at the end of the day, it really is quite a bit of work that is required of each plant location to comply with the regulations. On top of this OSHA retains the right to show up at any time (to any location) and perform an inspection to verify compliance with this regulation. If any deficiencies are found, there could be citations, notices of violation, and potentially forced closure.
The point of our software is to capture the work that any one plant or group of plants has already done to address this regulation, process and analyze that data, provide the individuals with email notifications to address upcoming and overdue tasks, notices and/or approvals, track recommendations to closure, and manage any and all changes properly so that the various elements truly work together in a way that is efficient and effective. Simple right? We certainly think so.
This regulation has been in place for over 20 years, but the majority of plants that we deal with, still struggle to meet the intent of this regulation. There are some plants that don’t really try at all – they just try to avoid being inspected by OSHA, and look exhaustively for any way possible to be exempt or hide from the regulations. There are others who give a fair effort and do some of the basics, expecting OSHA to ‘justify them in committing a little non-compliance’, thinking ‘there is no harm in this’, and only ‘beat them with a few stripes’ and ultimately extend leniency in the event of an inspection (see 2 Ne. 28:8). There are companies who try pretty hard, but are limited in their resources, so they never really meet the standard, and then there are still others (the vast minority) who make it a top priority and don’t settle for anything less than the best that they can do. To be fair (and honest) the majority of those who are honestly trying may be motivated by fear (hefty fine or even worse nowadays is bad publicity) more than the motivation to be the best that they can be and just do what is right, but there are a few who are motivated for the right reasons.
Since I am in the thick of an annual conference where PSM is a factor, this divisive topic brings up the following question to most of the attendees (at least where I am concerned); “what kind of feelings are stirred up within us when we hear the word PSM?” Imagine with me for a moment, the interactions that I get to see daily when I am representing my company at this industry trade show. The name of my company (APSM), and our slogan (PSM Software and Services) is displayed on our booth and scores of the end users walk by and silently answer that question based on their reaction to just reading my sign. It breaks down to something like this…
75% pretend that my booth doesn’t exist. They see the word PSM and they feign ignorance or disinterest (some might even actually become angry inside).
10% view the booth, see what we offer and actually move further away from me.
10% see my booth and our literature, watch the looping PowerPoint slide for a moment, and appear to be somewhat interested, only to then meander away avoiding eye contact at all cost hoping that I don’t speak to them.
5% read the slogan, watch the PPT, start to look at the brochures that explain our product, and think to themselves; ‘this software is totally awesome and could really help me in my ongoing quest to keep up with my PSM program’. 1
The reasons as to why the 95% don’t express any interest at all in our product are likely many – but here are a few possible explanations…
- They see the words PSM and ‘fear exceedingly’ because they know that their existing PSM program is in horrible shape – but them even considering talking to me (or us) would be an acknowledgement of their failure in that regard.So, they stay away from help, not realizing that by staying away from help (my company, our software) they actually are making things increasingly worse as time goes on. Ignoring the problem doesn’t seem to fix it. Then, in a panic they call us when they get audited by OSHA and ask for a miracle….
- They see the words PSM and don’t worry because they have been ‘pacified or lulled away into PSM security’ by someone who has little to no actualPSM knowledge. These are they who actually think that their 3rd grade PSM program is good enough to stand up against OSHA’s inspection criteria. These are they who were ‘flattered away’ by the cunning and false words of others.
- They see the words PSM, and are at least semi-interested.They watch the video thinking to themselves – “I should probably know about the things that this slideshow is outlining, and I should probably investigate this product to see if, what, and how it can help me” only to then reach a point where it seems to require too much of their time and attention and reach one of two conclusions 1) someone else has probably taken care of it, or 2) that’s a good product for others, but it would never work for me (budget reasons, more work than I want to think about, etc.).
- They see the words PSM and avoid us because they already have a PSM vendor (or even worse another PSM software product).They see us and yell in their minds “PSM software! PSM software! We have got a PSM software and there cannot be any more PSM software vendors!” This is a difficult customer to talk to because they are completely against anything that would upset this thought – no matter what we try.2
On the positive side, there are the 5% that are interested, ask good questions, take my business card and a brochure with real intent. Of those 5%, maybe 1% will respond to follow up and actually progress past the tradeshow – in order to see if our product really could help them, and these are the ones we like to talk with anyway. Even though only 1% will really progress, we still applaud them for pursuing the idea of betterment.
There is yet another category of conference-goer that I have not included in the percentage breakdown, and they are existing clients (or clients that have progressed from interested conference-goer or software product investigator to existing client at some point in the past). These clients come over confidently, we greet each other by name, and then we proceed to discuss how much the software has helped them over the months or years. They invariably indicate how much they’ve learned, how many things have improved, and how much of a difference it really has made. Sometimes this even bleeds into a discussion of what exciting changes are coming to the software in the future. Without fail the more the software is utilized by an individual or a plant, the more successful the PSM program and that company have been. If the software product is unused and/or misunderstood it will quickly be tossed out and forgotten.
That’s great Tyson, but what does PSM have to do with anything? I was bored 10 minutes ago.
A few weeks ago in Elder’s quorum, we had a lesson on repentance and the first question the instructor asked was “what kind of feelings are stirred up within us when we hear the word repentance?” It was an interesting question, and the answer is different for each of us as it is directly related to the level of our individual confidence ‘in the presence of God’ (see D&C 121:45) and our current need for repentance. If the word repentance immediately forms beads of sweat on our brow, and brings on visions of Spencer W. Kimball’s book (you know the one I’m talking about) we may naturally have some panic at the mere word – but, if we are honestly striving to do our best, and have repeatedly and humbly embraced repentance – we will have a different, much sweeter reaction to it.3
In other words, how we respond to the word repentance is the same to how my conference-goers respond to the sign PSM Software and Services at my booth.
Do I see or hear the word repentance and ‘fear exceedingly’ because I know that my existing repentance program is in horrible shape – and by thinking about it I acknowledge my deep failure in that regard? Do I then stay away from help and true repentance, not realizing that by staying away from help (bishop, family, the Lord) I am actually making things increasingly worse as time goes on. Ignoring repentance (or guilt which is the natural encouragement the spirit gives us to repent) will not make it’s necessity go away and problems can’t get fixed until they are identified and acknowledged (as problems).
Do I see/hear the word repentance but not worry because I have been ‘pacified or lulled away into carnal security’ by someone who has little to no real repentance knowledge. These are they who think that 3rd grade repentance program is good enough to stand up against God’s inspection criteria. These are they who were ‘flattered away’ by the cunning or completely wrong advice of others or our own rationalization or justifications.
Do I see/hear the word repentance and act semi-interested? Do I think to myself – “I should probably know more about the things that this class/instructor/book is outlining, and I should probably investigate this topic to see what and how it can help me” only to then reach a point where it seems to require too much of my time and attention and reach one of two conclusions 1) someday later I will probably take care of it, or 2) that’s a good idea in theory, but it would never actually work for me (personal reasons, family wouldn’t approve, more work than I want to think about, I’ve done too much wrong, etc.)
Do I see/hear the word repentance and avoid it because I already repented? Do I yell in my mind “repentance! repentance! We have repented and there cannot be any more repentance!”
On the positive side, if we find ourselves in the percentage that is continually interested in repentance, and we are currently asking good questions, let’s take it to the next step and get a business card and a brochure. Then, let’s continue to be the 1% that will actually respond or even initiate some follow up and actually progress the sale past the tradeshow – in order to see if repentance really can help us. Even though that progress might be slow, tedious, and potentially painful. Remember, we can’t know real joy or peace unless we know real misery and turmoil.
Then, we can count ourselves a part of the category of conference/church-goer that was not included in the percentage breakdown, (let us be existing and continuous repentance clients). Then we (as existing repentance clients) can come over to the Lords booth confidently, He will greet us by name, and then we can proceed to discuss how much repentance has helped us over the years. We can invariably tell him how much we’ve learned, how many things have improved in our lives, and how much of a difference it really has made – somehow much more than we ever thought it could. Without fail, the more repentance is utilized, the more successful the life program and that person will be. If however, the repentance process (just like PSM software) is unused and/or misunderstood it will quickly be ignored and forgotten.
1 You may ask how I came to arrive at these very scientific numbers and/or percentages, and there is no answer. I have no scientific studies, data, charts, or even lists to substantiate the percentile claims in this blog post, but they are correct. I just know. I liken this to how your bishop and/or other priesthood leaders or your parents just know if/when you’re lying about worthiness or preparation or tithing or anything else important. I have been doing this job for 8 years now and have attended over 30 tradeshows and every single one of them has the same people who give me the same runaround. I am not fooled. I have developed the talent of PSM discernment (a coveted gift in the pre-existence to be sure). I know very easily when our software solution could help someone. I know how much it could help them, and I know how thankful they would be for it IF they just listened to me and implemented it. Fathers and mothers feel this way about their children when they give them advice and the same fathers and mothers are not fooled when their children try and tell them that they brush their teeth every night before bed. We just know better.
2 I have (on many occasions) had to explain to people that there is more than 1 software provider out there, and just because you have one PSM software in use at your company doesn’t mean you have the best one, or even a good one at all. They should know that ‘there are more softwares than one’….and they should not ‘murmur because that ye shall receive more of my software [help]. They need not suppose that their software contains all the requirements for PSM; neither need they suppose [that He hath not] caused more to be written’ (see 2 Ne.29:6-12).
3 See ‘Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence’ by Elder Jorg Klebingat of the Seventy from the October 2014 Conference. It is amazing.