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.

Our Mission

The High Reliability website and the San Bernardino Group provides this educational website for executives, managers, workers, and researchers who seek a utilitarian or operational understanding of HRO, one they can begin to practice the same day they learn it. This educational venue comes from individuals with over 40 years of practice of what is now called HRO and from work with leading HRO researchers. We have taught these precepts to others who, in turn, have changed their organizations.

We follow a simple rule: What is learned today must explain yesterday or be used tomorrow.

Research, and the practical experience of those making hard decisions in crisis events, come together to clarify what really works in critical live or die situations.  We believe that the approach used for live or die moments derives from the same principles used in routine operations in uncertain situations.

Banks, investment firms, schools, construction firms, theater arts (dance, opera, stage, and film), small businesses, and large corporations all have exposure to risks and have experienced threats to their viability. The principles used to identify risk and threat and then develop a response are similar despite the varied nature of these organizations.

When one reviews these principles we see the similarity to those used by military combat, law enforcement, firefighting, and the Emergency Medical Services (EMS). When time pressures occur, all must respond to threat or uncertainty with existing resources.  While the resources may vary, the processes do not.

Within each of these organizations, the point of contact between the organization and the threat is the individual.  Here is where one person with the right attributes and attitude will identify the situation and interpret its level of risk.  At this point, the individual must then translate this knowledge to others within the organization so that they also appreciate the situation and begin responding.

In some systems, such as the financial sector, health care, or public safety, attention has come to risk mitigation and improving safety as a priority.  Scattered throughout these services, individuals have come to learn that safety and risk mitigation best develop in a culture that supports front-line workers.

These healthy safety cultures result in highly reliable organizations. The people in the group participating in this website also lead high reliability organizing (HRO) efforts within their own high-risk industries.

Beginning in 1989 several individuals from medicine, fire fighting, and EMS came together with the common interest of how individuals respond to emergencies, particularly by framing the crisis as a straightforward problem to solve.
"What you do everyday is what you do in an emergency" (Joe Martin, Battalion Chief, Los Angeles City Fire Department, Retired).

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