If the environmental health and safety field is going the way of consultants, we're going to need translators to dumb down the dreaded "consultantspeak." It's like trying to decipher Al Gore. This trend could mean full employment for the nation's editors.

Imagine if the language of consultants was the way of the world. Consider these scenes from the age of outsourcing:

Parent to teenager

"I've been assessing your performance and I've got to tell you, your core values and belief systems are not in alignment with this family. You seem to be operating in your own silo, and the outcomes are not validated by the metrics we use around here. You've got to get over your materiality.

"You're going to have to shift your paradigm. You need to be a gazelle, not a gorilla, in ramping up your career. You need future-proof mobility. Check out your core competencies, and the footprints you're leaving behind. Leverage your talent base and re-integrate yourself into this family. Partner with us. It's time you take a family-centric, reality-based view of things around here. You're a stakeholder. Got me?"

Coworkers in the cafeteria

"You know, in the macro sense of safety this company is not forward-leaping. No corporate supersonics here. We're dinosaurs, man. Where's the traction to incubate a new safety belief system?"

"What do you expect? All the outcomes here are product-centric. We're not hard-wired for safety. Go upstream, downstream, or mainstream, makes no difference, we're not evergreen with safety. We've got to light the fire within."

"You mean model the way?"

"Right. And someone better map the gaps. Otherwise our platform won't have the legs to take us to the next level."

"I agree. We need to draw parameters around operational excellence. Or we'll just be another backward-looking elephant gravitating to mediocrity."

Husband and wife after work

"So how did it go today, honey?"

"Oh, we're rolling out a new safety program to mask old inefficiencies and some negative externalities."

"You mean process, not program. What, are your belief systems out of whack?"

"Three guys were nearly run over on the loading dock this week. No ownership, no accountability."

"What's the difference?"

"Whatever. . . The whole culture is too consumed in talent wars and globalization. The macro just about killed the micro."

"That's no way to engage associates. You're not optimized. Bummer."

"Don't worry, we put the brakes on that. We'll gravitate toward reinvention."

"Whatever it takes to bring you home safe at night."

"Well, the issue I have with this best practice safety intervention is that it's offered within a strategic and operational-implementation vacuum."

"Vacuums are a drag. Too bad. Your best practice efforts have to be rewoven into the company's fabric."

"That's what I'm hoping."

What'd you say?

Is this what we have to look forward to in the post-bubble economy of emotional engagement? A consultant-centric carpet bombing?

So much of safety is a matter of communicating. Repeating the message over and over until it sinks in. You've heard the advice: Know your audience. Tailor your message. Don't talk over their heads. Words worth remembering as we bring in the coaches, counselors, organizational synergy consultants, reputation advisors, governance gurus, engagement experts, and principles and partners of all stripes to provide high quality value-added services to maximize our human resource infrastructure through excellence in safety.

Or as one consultant says:

"We could get going to the next level of thinking and embrace high performance assumptions and plays to stay ahead of the crowd, have more fun, make more money for all stakeholders and generate new options."

Translation: Just win, baby.

- Dave Johnson, Editor