Managing the Unexpected

High Reliability develops an organization’s strengths through individual actions.
Shared attitudes fill the gap between organization and the individual to determine High Reliability.

Models of HRO

HRO Model Overview | Perrow/Complex OrganizationsMercer/Naval Aviation | High Reliability OrganizationsRoberts & Libuser/Organizational Psychology | Weick and Sutcliffe/Social Psychology | Slagmolen/Change | van Stralen/Neuropsychology | HRO & Normal Accident Theory


The High Performance or Reliability Seeking Organization

Bert_Slagmolen.jpgSlagmolen (2009) makes use of Weick and Sutcliffe’s perspective on mindfulness in organizations to develop practical tools and intervention techniques. They found that many businesses dealing with complexity, restrictive regulations, and multiple players and do not believe that reliability concepts, developed by organizations where death can occur, also apply to their organizations. This led to his focus on performance and reliability seeking to develop the High Performance Organization (HPO). In these organizations, failure, while not catastrophic, and normalization of failure, may occur with poor service rendered to the customer or public. His work is based on Weick’s seminal work The Social Psychology of Organizing and Berger’s and Luckman’s Social Construction of Reality. His focus is on interaction and the ‘organization of reality’; less on individual training and coaching, and structures and systems.

From this perspective he distinguishes four conditions for Reliability Seeking:

1) Informed culture, where managers and employees communicate openly and share information;
2) Common points of reference, allows people to negotiate shared values and concepts;
3) Redundancy, where the organization won’t be immediately stopped when certain parts fail;
 4) Keeping a central focus on relationships, because collective attitude is not a self-evident feature in an organization but a pattern in which individuals carefully and cautiously adjust their actions one another and treat each other with respect.

van Dalen B, Slagmolen B, Taen R. 2009. Mindful organizing: How to manage unexpected events and unwanted processes. Nijmegen, NL: Apollo 13 Consult (www.a13c.nl)

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