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.

Title: Duty

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12/16/2011 6:27 PM

[Note, this is Duty and not referring to Duties.]

Duty is the moral commitment that results in action. High Reliability is a choice. You choose to want to do well. Duty is willingly accepted, it is not an external motivation.

Duty is intangible but it keeps drawing you back into your job. Dharma is duty or character, an essential truth in Hinduism. People may work at a job for money (utilitarian employee) but Dharma, duty or pathway, is why people perform well on the job. With duty you evolve personally while you are evolving the organization. Duty is the global overview of the mission; where the organization needs to go.

The most direct quote regarding military duty is from Lord Nelson, “England expects that everyman will do his duty.” In an HRO they do their duty and then one step more. This brings relief to the team or organization when you do your duty. The Lord Nelson quote is also alignment – as with England. There is alignment between individual values and the country’s values.

Duty is an ethical relationship to others; you are your brothers’/sisters’ keeper. Duty is responsibility for the welfare of others. In Crew Resource Management (CRM ) if you see something abnormal you must bring it to the attention of the crew. There is an individual sense of agency in the organization. This is part of who you are and you are a part of the organization.

Duty is related to purpose – why you are doing it; not the what of your actions. Duty is why the organization exists; the values are real and they are used. Duty must be in relation to the mission and vision statements. “I am agreeing to do this as I like what the organization does. This is different from individual responsibilities; this is beyond the tasks of the organization.

Duty has emphasis that certain things are required but HRO has a voluntary piece to it. You are required to do duty and this seems opposite of what HRO is. In reliability they range widely to see and do things you might not have thought of. [We are beginning to differentiate duty as task responsibility from duty as sense of duty or character trait aligned with mission of organization.]

Duty is related to cause; what is the cause of an organization? You believe in the cause of the organization therefore you help it move forward. Alignment the culture of the organization between the person and the organization; then the sense of duty is profound. Alignment between organizational culture and the individual is through the belief/value system.

Duty may not be appropriate for civilian organizations. Individual responsibility to the organization as a whole is seen in the uniformed services. They understand that their action and inaction can harm or help the organization. Duty comes from that.

Duty of the individual – show up on the job; be responsible for yourself; you have responsibility for things in an HRO; all these are instilled and then branch out to make you prepared for the next big job when you can contribute (not getting by). Individual duties and higher level group duties exist. “In the presence of avoid, move forward,” Jim Denney. In High Reliability people move forward. Every individual believes it is their job even if others are also problem solving.

Make duty infectious – don’t tell them to do it but they want to do it on their own, it is infectious to others who will then do it. An infectious attitude toward the cause and purpose, then each person will flourish and want to participate. They will self-sacrifice and go beyond their ego. Infectious or contagious – these are good in an HRO. You set the reputation of the ship when you go into a foreign port for five days after being as sea for 75-80 days. When a 6,000 member crew can leave without a significant liberty incident then you see the infectious nature of duty.

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