Dave Christenson shares his experience and knowledge about how to create an environment for fostering high-reliability and resilience within organizations. He offers some profound insights for leaders and managers who wish to improve organizational and human performance.

Dave’s Biography:

David is the CEO of Christenson & Associates, LLC, a consultancy group primarily serving safety-critical, high-risk industries and now doing business as O4R: Organizing For Resilience. David contributes to this organization as it serves clients with education, training, coaching and mentoring The New View in Relational Leadership, Event Learning Teams, Human Performance, Safety II, High Reliability Organizing & Resilience Engineering, Crisis Management, Critical Thinking, and Inspiring Leadership through Emotional & Social Intelligence. David is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Relational Leadership and Social Construction through the U.S. Taos Institute and Leiden University of Leiden, The Netherlands. He completed the Masters of Science degree program in Human Factors and Systems Safety at Lund University, Sweden in 2012. He was a researcher in the Leonardo da Vinci Laboratory for Complexity and Systems Thinking under the guidance of Professor Sidney Dekker. Previously David helped to build and manage the U.S. Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center. David focused on developing organizational learning, high reliability organizing, resilience engineering and creating a widely used knowledge management system as he helped build a new Learning Center for his nation’s interagency 300,000-member wildland fire community. He has served as a High Reliability Organizing Technical Specialist with national and regional incident management teams (IMT) during wildfire and non-fire incidents. Dave was also a Master Sergeant in the US Air Force, training teams of an Alert Interceptor Force in Europe. He graduated from that career as the production superintendent over a squadron of F-15 Eagles at Holloman AFB, NM.

Show Notes:

As we move from the industrial sectors to the information age, there is a lot more complexity within organizations. Interactive complexity can greatly impact the way decisions are made and breakdowns can occur in areas where teams interact. 

It is critical to organize systems and habits so that people can learn to pay attention to and detect weak signals of failure and react appropriately. High-Reliability Organizing and Resilience Engineering offer approaches to help organizations that operation in high-hazard, high-risk and/or high-consequence industries to proactively manage risk and react appropriately when failure occurs.

Small failures are like free lessons because they can help us learn without experiencing catastrophe. Leaders and managers must choose to listen to these free lessons and learn from them, as opposed to simply thinking that the problem won’t happen again. Even when other organizations experience failure leaders and managers should attempt to learn from them rather than exhibit a “distancing through differences” attitude. 

Leaders should learn to be humble and admit they don’t know everything. When an organization is extremely successful it can lull leaders and managers into a false sense of security. By maintaining a questioning attitude leaders can try to detect weak signals of potential failure. Open mindedness is an important trait in today’s VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world. 

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Time-Stamped Show Notes:

·      0:35-Randy introduces Dave Christenson and describes who he is, including reading his formal biography.

·      1:33- Randy asks Dave, “Okay, we’ve heard your formal bio, but tell us what makes you tick, what motivates you, what inspires you, or generally why you do what you do?”

·      6:51-Randy asks Dave about his current role.

·      8:44-Randy and Dave talk about Distancing through Differences and how leaders may experience a “that couldn’t happen to us” attitude when failure happens in a similar industry.

·      12:25 –Dave describes how success can include blinders and affect how leaders view weak signals of failure.

·      20:50-Randy describes Crew Resource Management training and the benefits.

·      23:30-Randy and Dave talk about the need for human performance and effective teamwork in high-risk complex environments, particularly in electrical utility industries.

·      24:08-Randy asks Dave about what area in industry he feels needs disruption.

·      31:07-Randy asks Dave, “If you could be granted one wish for leadership or organizational change/development what would it be?” 


Book Recommendation: Beyond Blame: Learning from Failure and Success by Dave Zwiebeck, The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error by Sidney Dekker, Managing the Unexpected by Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe, Pre-Accident Investigations by Todd Conklin, Team of Teams by Stanley McChrystal, Tatum Collins, David Silverman and Chris Fussell


Web: www.o4r.co

Email: david@o4r.co

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