icon-linkedin.png     About Us     Contact Us

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. Thomas A. Mercer

RAdm, USN, (retired), Vice-president

Thomas A. Mercer, RAdm, USN (retired)

RAdm Mercer initiated the studies of High Reliability when he invited academicians from the University of California, Berkeley, to study his crew with the goal of improving their performance. At the time (July 1983-March 1986) he was Captain of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Rather than offer methods to improve, the academicians codified RAdm Mercer’s command philosophy and methods as a High Reliability Organization (HRO). He flew 255 Vietnam Combat Missions, has 970 carrier arrested landings, and has 3,700 hours in the A-4C and A-7E. His awards include the Defense Distinguished Medal, Distinguished Service Medal (two awards), Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (two awards), Distinguished Flying Cross (three awards), four individual Air Medals, 25 Strike Flight Air Medals, and six Navy Commendation Medals.

RAdm Mercer was commander of Subic Bay Navy Base when Mt. Pinatubo threatened Clark Air Base. Evacuees from Clark came to Subic but on the day of the eruption a typhoon hit Subic endangering people from both bases who were then evacuated on US Navy ships. RAdm Mercer directed this activity while also assisting the Philippine people and government.

He had three combat deployments to Vietnam (USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, CVA 42, and USS Kitty Hawk, CVA 63), served as Executive Officer/Commanding Officer of VA-82 on the USS Nimitz (CVN 68), and had command of the USS Guadalcanal (LPH 7) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). As a Flag Officer, he first served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff as Vice Director for command and control, interoperability, and operational planning (J6/J7). He then became Commander of Carrier Group Seven (Nimitz, Midway, and Ranger Battle Groups) followed by Naval Forces Philippines. He retired from the US Navy after serving as Superintendent, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA. He was also Executive Director of the Center for Risk Mitigation at the University of California, Berkeley.

RAdm Mercer graduated with distinction from the US Naval Academy and received his Master of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA. He also graduated from the Navy’s nuclear propulsion school.

Published Research:

Rochlin GI, Todd R. La Porte TR, Roberts KH. The Self-Designing High-Reliability Organization: Aircraft Carrier Flight Operations at Sea. Naval War College Review 1987 


Powered by liveSite Get your free site!