In this episode Todd Conklin and I talk a lot about human error, safety at the margins and Operational Excellence. Two of the key takeaways are that human error is not a choice and that organizations that can learn from themselves are on the path towards Operational Excellence.

Reminder about Intelex Webinar on July 28:

This is a short reminder about the Intelex Webinar July 28, 2016 from 10:00-10:30 EST where Ron Gantt and I will discuss “How to create sustainable performance and achieve organizational goals through safety.”

Here is the link to register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8877148295350507012

In this webinar, we will identify: 

1. The goals of a safety management program and their relationship to organizational performance. 
2. Factors and Barriers that enable or disable sustainable performance. 
3. The best practices that organizations can implement to facilitate building sustainable expert performance.

Show Notes:

Many people consider human error a poor choice on the part of front line operators, supervisors or whoever made the error. However, error isn’t necessarily a choice. It is often influenced by numerous system factors that lead to a deviation from expected or desired performance and many of these factors are beyond the control of the person who made the error.

A goal of zero incidents or accidents is the moral goal. However, chasing a goal of zero accidents may be problematic for organizations that are complex systems or operate complex systems. As a general rule, most organizations are complex systems. If we incorrectly treat organizations as simple systems we may chase a lagging indicator of zero incidents and not understand the factors that actually develop to lead to incidents or accidents. We must understand that organizations have numerous interconnected parts and the way those parts integrate and connect can change and risk can emerge around those connection points. Therefore, rather than chasing a goal of zero lagging indicators organizations may be better-served by gaining an understanding of risk within their systems. 

Randy likes to describe Operational Excellence as “sustainable mission accomplishment through the use of quality, safety and reliability methods.” These methods must work within the organization and they may vary from one organization to another. Todd uses a very interesting description of Operational Excellence which encompasses these points. He calls Operational Excellence “the ability of an organization to learn from itself.” This highlights the importance of organizational learning. 

When talking about safety and work as it is actually done operational teams often work at the edge of the boundaries of operational drift and this area of performance may be referred to as the safety margin. It is within this space of safety and operational performance where crews, teams and workers actively create and manage safety so that safety is a mission-enabler to help the organization achieve its production/operations goals. 

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Book Recommendations: Pre-Accident Investigations: Better Questions-An Applied Approach to Operational Learning by Todd Conklin, A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel, The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error 3rd Edition by Sidney Dekker.


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