High Reliability Organizing (HRO) developed as a means to make an organization or unit stronger. In its natural state we historically found it in environments of danger or uncertainty such as military combat, firefighting, or business activities. While proactive components (plans and anticipation) and reactive components (after action reviews) are necessary parts of HRO, High Reliability itself derives from the ability of the organization and individuals to interact in real time with uncertainty or threat from the external environment.
HRO describes on the organizational level the structure necessary for High Reliability, on the social level the collaboration found in response to threat, and on the individual level the satisfaction of problem solving while modulating threat responses. These three levels facilitate the free flow of information and the migration of action for a quick response to, and interaction with, surprise or accelerating events. The High Reliability Organization emerges from the interactions between people responsive to the environment in an organization that allows this.
In the world today we deal with uncertainty and threat. This can be on the personal level of family or job, on the business level of the economy, or in geopolitics. High Reliability, evolved for optimal performance in an environment of uncertainty and threat, can strengthen a person’s performance, improve the function of a team, and move an organization forward through uncertainty.
HRO, derived from human reasoning and behavior, looks at the commonality of decrements in quality, resilience, and safety. After all, these differ only in what is harmed: the product, the system, or a person respectively. It appears intuitively obvious that resources used for Quality, Resilience, or Safety (the QRS Complex) will not be available for Productivity. However, when done correctly Quality, Resilience, and Safety will improve along with Productivity. This is the process of High Reliability.
High Reliability developed to make an organization stronger (Mercer) and for an individual to operate in uncertainty or under threat (van Stralen). People come together to create High Reliability (Weick) in an organization designed for this (Roberts). It is the individual who acts but the organization must allow that action.
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Bringing the methods of High Reliability Organizing