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How a POV powered the purpose of a public sector organization



Eddie Morland is CEO of the Health and Safety Laboratories near Buxton in Derbyshire. The HSL is an agency of the UK’s Health and Safety Executive and is a global centre of excellence for health and safety research and incident investigations. Whether it is a train crash, an explosion or trying to understand the root causes of accidents, the HSL is the equivalent of crime scene investigation in detective work. However, in order to continue its mission while (like every other public sector organization) suffering from decreasing funds from government, Eddie and the leaders of HSL decided they needed to increase efforts to win business from the private sector.

But how was it to express its purpose in a way that was more attractive to the commercial sector, and not be seen as a regrettable cost of doing business?

We used the BBBA methodology to arrive at the purpose. We discovered, working with the leadership team, that their strongly held belief was that the well-being and prosperity of Britain relied on being able to make progress in a safe, healthy environment. Sadly, too many people saw H&S as a hindrance to progress. At HSL, they believed that by learning from health and safety experiences, they could enable individuals, organizations and the nation to make sustainable progress that benefited all.

Their scientific approach, knowledge and experience helped them to understand the complex interactions between people, plant and processes. Their unmatched depth of scientific talent, combined with extraordinary lab facilities and proximity to the regulator, allowed them to offer joined-up, practical solutions to clients that benefited workers, employers and society. (Behaviour.)

Organizations that followed their advice enjoyed improved predictability through less downtime of people and plant, giving a faster return on investment and an improved bottom line. At the same time, they created a better working environment, leading to greater employee commitment and an enhanced reputation. (Benefit.)

Their call to action was to ask leaders to appreciate that moving from compliance to excellence in health and safety brought benefits that would directly and positively influence an organization’s results. They wanted decision makers in H&S to work with them to enable their businesses and organizations to work better.

This led to the powerful purpose statement that proudly sits on the front page of their current website: ‘Enabling a better working Britain.’ The statement works so well because it resonates at many levels with internal and external audiences, whether they are workers, employers, business owners, shareholders, public sector organizations or regulators. It was born of a better expression of their point of view.





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