Published on May 18, 2018
By: Trude Henderson, MA
When I think of a place where miracles happen every day, where the highest focus, safety and consistency are critical, what scenes first come to mind? A neonatal intensive care unit, the control room of a nuclear-powered submarine or the busiest airport in the world. Few organizations are as at-risk or mistake-prone as these, but regardless of the industry, size or complexity, High Reliability Organizations (HROs) offer insights that can prove invaluable. A skeptic might respond, “Aren’t you comparing apples and oranges?” The answer might surprise you.
Understanding the nuances that make an HRO successful can be a challenge to outsiders, because the inner workings of many of these organizations, for good reason, are off-limits to the public. A neonatal intensive care unit, for example, has restricted access, but the difficulties of studying them are compounded by the fact that people don’t like to talk about death – especially death caused by a medical mistake. In 1984, Karlene Roberts, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and a pioneer of HRO theory, gained an unprecedented entrée into “intrinsically hazardous” organizations, culminating in research that proved a milestone in the field.
An HRO can be defined as “an organization that conducts relatively error-free operations over a long period of time, making consistently good decisions that result in high quality and reliable operations.” But wait, isn’t that what every organization strives for?
Industries that initiated the use of HRO concepts (1 through 5 below) included aviation, nuclear power, manufacturing and the military. In 2008, hospitals began adopting and applying High Reliability science and methodologies to their operations, with great success. HROs are adept at hard-wiring certain valuable behavioral traits into the organizational culture, with the potential to mitigate adverse or threatening effects.
Below are some key takeaways that can help you inspire superior performance throughout your organization:
Trude Henderson is the co-founder of ToothFairy, a startup elective dental and medical practice improvement software company which delivers an unparalleled customer experience that inspires delight, loyalty and positive emotional connections to improve the lives of patients and the practices they visit. In 2016, she was the first to introduce High-Reliability Organizational Concepts to the dental industry. For questions, contact her directly at Trude@GetToothFairy.com. Follow Trude on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trudehenderson/ (no email required).
Go to ToothFairy's website: www.ToothFairySoftware.com.
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