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The importance of Safety Culture in the success of IT - OwlPoint

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The importance of Safety Culture in the success of IT

The importance of Safety Culture in the success of IT July 2, 2020
Safety Culture

by Greg Smith

Organizations are increasingly under pressure to deliver continued performance under rapidly changing conditions. News of a false step can travel far and wide in seconds and have significant impact to internal confidence, customer trust and even the organization’s brand reputation.  Because of this, risk identification and mitigation is vital to the success of IT in enabling and maintaining desired Business outcomes. To optimize risk identification and mitigation, organizations need to adopt a “Safety Culture” resulting in a set of shared beliefs, perceptions, and values in relation to risks.

What is Safety Culture?

Safety Culture aligns with the ITIL 4 “Collaborate and promote visibility” Guiding Principle. It is a climate where people are comfortable being – and expressing – themselves.  People feel trusted and valued. People know they can be open and honest identifying risks – even if it might reflect poorly on them – without fear of damaging their reputation or “getting in trouble.”

How do we foster a Safety Culture?

Like many cultural shifts, Safety Culture needs to be supported by senior management and embraced at all levels. Staff need to be knowledgeable and skilled to identify risks and hazards. Critically, they need to be confident in sharing their findings and opinions without fear of embarrassment, judgement, or penalty. Finger-pointing and blame is viewed as unconstructive and failures as learning opportunities.

ITIL 4 High-Velocity IT

High-Velocity IT (HVIT) in ITIL is “the application of digital technology for significant business enablement…where speed is crucial.” “Velocity” is not just speed, but also direction: you must be doing the right thing (including reducing risks) quickly. Because of this, Safety Culture is integral to enabling the HVIT way of working – that people feel confident to share their opinions and experiment without fear – and is represented by the “Trust and be trusted” key behavior. 


Systems – including their flaws and potential issues – are becoming more complex, the demands to change and improve these systems are coming at an increasing rate, and at the same time Business dependence on them has never been higher. In this climate, it’s critical to adopt a safe environment where the staff is empowered and confident to identify, raise, and address risks as soon as possible. The behaviors resulting from having a Safety Culture benefit all stakeholders and are a foundation for continued improvement.