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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.


Ms. Janice Tolk

Ph.D., P.E.

Janice N. Tolk, Ph.D., P.E., is employed by Texas Tech University (TTU) as a Professor of Practice  in the Industrial Engineering Department.  She is the Director of the Center of Excellence for High Reliability Organizations and Processes at TTU.  Her research interests include High Reliability Organizations, productivity and performance management, strategic leadership, and system theory.  She was previously employed by B&W Pantex at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas where she serve in a variety of management and leadership positions and in multiple organizations, thus gaining a wide range of experience in facility engineering, maintenance, management, security; and manufacturing high explosives and special nuclear materials.  She actively pursued research on HRO principles and implementation and implemented HRO practices in a high hazard operation.


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