High Reliability Organizations (HROs) offer benchmarks for other organizations and systems whose missions are critical but operate in challenging high-risk environments. Successful HROs offer insights on operations, culture, performance, and evaluation that can be adapted to other organizations to improve the reliability of achieving objectives.
Early research on HROs attempted to understand how organizations such as aircraft carriers and the air traffic control system could continuously produce desired outcomes despite the high uncertainties of input conditions (environment) and the inherent interdependence of operations. Observing these unlikely success stories led to the distillation of 5 principles:
• A preoccupation with failure.
• Reluctance to simplify.
• Sensitivity to operations.
• Commitment to resilience.
• Deference to expertise.
Recently, managers in less fraught, but still complex, organizations and systems have begun to adapt these principles to deliver a similar high reliability in outcomes. Among others, good candidates for applying the lessons of HROs include the cash management system and healthcare organizations and systems.
The Joint Commission on healthcare accreditation is sponsoring work to develop a path for healthcare organizations of various sorts to move toward high reliability outcomes. A 2013 Joint Commission paper by Mark Chassin and Jerod Loeb titled “High Reliability Healthcare: Getting There from Here” summarizes a process to move toward the goal. An important point it emphasizes is that the improvement is continuous: HROs seek perfection, but never finally reach it.
Chassin and Loeb lay out stages healthcare organizations might follow on the journey toward becoming an HRO. Other types of organizations would have to adapt these to their own circumstances, but they do provide a template for moving forward.
Our latest SlideShare, What makes a High Reliability Organization? provides deeper information about the 5 principles, and illustrates how they might be applied in your organization.
Take a look here: