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What is HRO?

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.


Mr. Richard S. Hartley

PhD., P.E.

Richard S. Hartley, Ph.D., P.E. is a principal engineer in the Emergency, Safety, Health and Quality Division for B&W Pantex in Amarillo, Texas.  Dr. Hartley is the primary lead for developing and implementing High Reliability Organization (HRO) practices at Pantex, the country’s only nuclear weapon assembly and disassembly plant.  Dr. Hartley complements these efforts with an improved Causal Factors Analysis (CFA) investigation process for organizationally rich, yet non-consequential events to learn when HRO practices fall short.  Dr. Hartley has written two texts on the subjects as practical guides for organizations wanting to pursue high reliability and learn as organizations.

Dr. Hartley has conducted HRO and CFA seminars for more than 500 senior managers at Department of Energy sites, the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board, world-wide petroleum companies and presented at numerous professional conferences.  Dr. Hartley provided expert testimony at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearing on the subway crash in Washington, D.C. and on behalf of the National Academy of Engineers reviewed several investigation reports on the Deepwater Horizon event. 

Dr. Hartley received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, his M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and his B.S. in Physics from Texas A&M University.  He holds Professional Engineering Licenses in Environmental Engineering in Ohio and Texas.  Dr. Hartley is a certified Six Sigma Blackbelt. 


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