Introduction: This is a WIKI for the emerging high reliability community - so help us create a resource to share your experiences and your expertise

Welcome to our new WIKI for people interested in improving safety and performance in complex sociotechnical systems. This WIKI has been started by people in the U.S. Department of Energy who are on that journey.

So why a WIKI? We want to gather the knowledge that is floating around in the DOE community and the world at large to create a collection of information that can be used as resources for others who are on a similar journey. We want to define commonly referenced concepts, we want to organize those concepts and ultimately we want to be able to efficiently communicate those concepts to the world.

For about 10 years we have been implementing high reliability efforts based on scholarly research and validated techniques used in other complex domains such as commercial nuclear power and aviation. Along the way we've learned some important lessons. The first lesson is that the academic literature is informative, but implementation is hard. So while we welcome academic insights, we particularly want to engage you who translate theory into practical application. What do you actually do, how does it work, what have you learned that will help others?

So, please, as you feel comfortable, click the edit button on the upper right of the page and start changing the wiki. The wiki environment is non-destructive, there is a complete history and change log, and we can undo anything at anytime. Wikis also have a discussion feature, which many of you have already used to respond to my initial "Who's in here?" question, but now I'd like to ask you to post your questions, what do you want to know, what are your thoughts and ideas? The discussion is a great place to elicit feedback from this community, so please ask away.

We have posted a few pages to start. These are in some cases rough, unpolished, place-holders.

Here is a rough idea of what we have in mind, we welcome any comments or suggestions:

You May Begin Here!

STEP 1: Please respond to "Who's in here" so we know you receive the notice, and understand how to proceed.
STEP 2: Tell us what you want to work on - do this in the discussion.
STEP 3: Begin editing, adding content, whatever - just do something!
STEP 4: HAVE FUN - once you do steps 1, 2 & 3 you will officially be a wiki author and editor!

What is the social science framework for the Highly Reliable Performace WIKI?

Highly reliable organizations perform safety sensitive missions consistently, accomplishing production goals while doing so safely. The Highly Reliable Performance approaches discussed in this WIKI are based on systems theory, in particular theories and research on sociotechnical systems. Systems-based approaches to safety involve the application of scientific, technical and managerial skills to hazard identification, hazard analysis, and elimination, control, or management of hazards throughout the life-cycle of a system, program, project or an activity or a product. A system is defined as a set or group of interacting, interrelated or interdependent elements or parts that are organized and integrated to form a collective unity or a unified whole to achieve a common objective.

Sociotechnical systems theory addresses the relationships of people and society with technology and science. The term “Sociotechnical Organizations” refers to the interrelatedness of both the social and technical aspects of an organization. Sociotechnical theory is about joint optimization, with a shared emphasis on achievement of excellence in technical performance, safety and quality in people's work lives. Sociotechnical theory proposes a number of different ways of achieving joint optimization usually based on designing organizations to promote emergence of productivity and human wellbeing.

The human performance perspective is introduced through a set of concepts and principles associated with a performance model that illustrates the organizational context of human performance. The model contends that human performance is a system that comprises a network of elements that work together to produce repeatable outcomes. The system encompasses organizational factors, job-site conditions, individual behavior, and results. The system approach puts new perspective on human error: it is not a cause of failure, alone, but rather the effect or symptom of deeper trouble in the system. Human error is not random; it is systematically connected to features of people’s tools, the tasks they perform, and the operating environment in which they work.

The ideas and techniques addressed in this WIKI are intended to promote practical ways of thinking about hazards and risks to performance. It must be noted that highly reliable performance is not about regulatory compliance; in fact excellence, which is the pursued state of high reliability seeking organization, is characterized by rule compliance and rule management as a central tenant. Therefore compliance with regulatory requirements and adherence to locally developed controls is a pre-requisite for excellence.

Research and practice of excellence seeking organizations explores both the individual and leader behaviors needed to reduce error, as well as improvements needed in organizational processes and values and job-site conditions to better support work performance. Fundamental knowledge of human and organizational behavior is emphasized so that managers, supervisors, and individual performers alike can better identify and eliminate error-provoking conditions that can trigger errors leading to events in processing facilities, laboratories, D & D structures, or anywhere else on DOE property. Ultimately, the attitudes and practices needed to control these situations include:
• the will to communicate problems and opportunities to improve;
• an uneasiness toward the ability to err;
• an intolerance for error traps that place people and the facility at risk;
• vigilant situational awareness;
• rigorous use of error-prevention techniques; and
• understanding the value of relationships.

Subject Author Replies Views Last Message
Metrics MSmart MSmart 8 224 Oct 13, 2011 by LBland LBland
Who's in here? DRisley DRisley 29 669 Oct 5, 2011 by LBland LBland
Grass roots movement vs. top down approach... MSmart MSmart 4 705 Jun 3, 2010 by WRoege WRoege