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Meet the ISG - Dave Tilton

Get to know the ISG. Over the next few months we'll look to introduce you to each of our members - keep an eye out for your representative!

We're going to kick off introductions with one of the Daves. Dave Tilton is the Chair of the TTM ISG and one of the TTM supplier representatives.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background in TTM.

I have been in the TTM industry for 15 years, 12 of those running my own business. Prior to that I was an officer in the NZ Army. In my early TTM days I wore all the hats I had to – from on-road practicing STMS, to designer, to trainer, to shadow driver, to everything in between.

For the latter half of my career I’ve focused on major projects, complex TTM design, bespoke training, and helping companies at the organisational level improve and adapt their TTM systems (and of course, running a company).

Most of my time now is spent working with the TTM industry (like volunteering my time with the ISG), or working with NZTA on initiatives, or larger companies on systems change, or doing serious incident investigations.

Give us a quick helicopter-view of where the industry is on this journey at the moment and what needs to change to get to where we want to be?

The TTM industry is being asked to grow up – and quickly. Growing up is hard work. We have operated in a similar way for a few decades, but the biggest changes are ahead of us.

During my time in the industry, I’ve observed how we tend to struggle with change and that resistance can make it harder. The organisations and people that seem to do well are the ones that look forward, not backward – and lean in to the future rather than push against it.

Where do you see the ISG adding the most value over the next 12-18 months?

We have never had an industry group for TTM. There is so much the ISG can offer from centralised knowledge and shared communication, to recognising our workers who are at risk every day.

I’ve observed how TTM industry organisations in other countries, like the USA and Australia, help and support good performance and value from their industries. It's great to see. We can have that too if we continue on our current path and make sure the industry has a central group that can solve problems on it’s behalf.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for TTM suppliers in shifting to a more risk-based approach?

TTM suppliers are used to being at the bottom of the food chain. First to show up, last to leave. Receiving the TMP the day before and being asked to ‘make it work’ with less info, less time, and less resources than they would like.

The risk-based approach calls for all PCBUs to be involved in planning, and this means TTM suppliers who ultimately carry out the TTM in many cases. Involving TTM suppliers early can save time, money, and effort. Where I’ve seen that happen – everyone wins.

The challenge for TTM suppliers will be changing their mindset to being not just a company at the end of the chain but also a key part of solving problems at the start of the process.

If you could clear up one misconception or let people know one thing that you don’t think is widely understood about the shift to a more risk-based approach, what would it be?

The biggest illusion people have is that “we're already doing a risk based approach”. In this industry, we don’t. Anyone who says to me ‘we are already doing this stuff’ has decided they want to stop learning and doing better, and is letting their ego do the talking. 

The risk based approach (to anything) takes practice, and learning, and humility. The only thing we are practiced at in TTM is following CoPTTM, and that isn’t managing risk – its using a set of rules and thinking we are managing risk. 

The first piece of advice I would give anyone is – rate yourself out of 10 as to how good you think you are at risk management. Take off five, and that’s where you're really at. Now, go find ways to earn back those five points.