Before I spent a lot of time learning, thinking, and writing about how businesses operate and what separates those that successfully achieve their mission and those that don’t, I took a lot of things for granted. I never worried that my plane would crash, I wasn’t afraid that the power plant near my house would explode, nor was I concerned that the aircraft carrier my neighbor’s son calls home would come to harm. Sure, all of those adverse events do occur, but they are so rare that most of us just don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them.
Sep 27, 2019 8:32:00 AM
Jun 17, 2019 12:14:11 PM
I guess I picked a bad day to go to Target. I kind of knew it was a bad day to go to Target because it was a Saturday and the day before Father’s Day. I didn’t know it would be a really, really bad day to go to Target - an all systems are down sort of day. But it was.
Target’s inability (or near inability by some accounts) to process customer transactions for about two hours last Saturday represented a mild-to-moderate inconvenience for me, requiring two trips that took way longer than they should have to purchase my husband’s Father’s Day present. (It’s a bike. He loves it.) Of course, for the employees of Target, the inconvenience was way more than moderate.
One can only speculate about how much revenue, not to mention goodwill, was lost during the outage. As it does, the Twitterverse had a heyday making fun of the situation. Rivals Walmart and Amazon no doubt got a boost, and I suspect there was a spike in shrinkage. (Retail-speak for theft.) And although the company was quick to state that the problem was not a hack or data breach, Target’s already marred reputation for data integrity certainly was not helped.
Mar 18, 2019 10:13:10 AM
A high-reliability organization (HRO) is an organization that has succeeded in avoiding catastrophes despite a high level of risk and complexity. Specific examples that have been studied, most famously by researchers Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe, include nuclear power plants, air traffic control systems, and naval aircraft carriers. Recently healthcare organizations have moved to adopt the HRO mindset as well. In each case, even a minor error could have catastrophic consequences.
Mar 7, 2019 7:32:00 AM
High-reliability organizations (HROs) are those that successfully complete their missions despite massive complexity and high risk. Examples include the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Control system, aircraft carriers, nuclear power plants, and NASA. In each case, even a minor error could have catastrophic consequences. Yet, adverse outcomes in these organizations are rare. How is it possible that we can go years without a commercial airline accident, but the guy at the drive through can’t seem to get your order right?
Jul 29, 2016 7:30:00 AM
High reliability organizations are those that succeed despite significant risk, and massive consequences of failure, in industries ranging from airlines, nuclear power plants, and aircraft carriers to health care. If a high reliability organization suffers a major process breakdown, you’re likely to hear about it on the news.
Most of us don’t hold the lives of hundreds of people in our hands; we’re simply trying to get products out to customers or make sure individual patients get the care they need. But, there’s a lot to be said for studying how high reliability organizations (HROs) can succeed so often in the face of inherent challenges. Why is it, for example, that the airlines and air traffic control system can safely land more than 87,000 flights every day, but my cable goes out twice a month?
Research into what HROs have in common is revealing. They exhibit a certain set of behaviors that aren’t common in other businesses, but that could be applied to any type of organization to earn it a competitive advantage.
High Reliability Organizations are:
Sep 30, 2015 1:32:00 PM
I’m sitting on an airplane right now. Over the next hour or so, I’m going to write this blog post. I really want to write a blog that you will find interesting and useful. If I don’t? I might feel bad. My blogging privileges may get revoked. I might even get fired. But even if this is the worst blog ever written, no one will die because of it. I wake up and try to do a great job every day, but frankly, the stakes are low. The men and women who build, fly, maintain, and coordinate the flight patterns of the plane I’m on right now are in a different boat. I - and the 150 other folks on this aircraft - have trusted them with our lives.
Feb 10, 2015 7:51:00 AM
What is a “high reliability organization,” or an HRO? It’s an organization that works continuously to avoid major mishaps through a particular culture of safety and excellence. With origins in fields like aviation and nuclear operations, a growing number of health systems, such as Lifespan, are embracing the culture change required to reduce patient harm… to become an HRO.
This article, from Becker’s Hospital Review, is a useful introduction, with tips from Quint Studer: “5 Traits of High Reliability Organizations: How to Hardwire Each in Your Organization.”