Risk Assessment, Leadership, Ethics, and Trust

Real-World Reliability

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Wildland firefighters. Air traffic controllers. Flight deck crews of Navy aircraft carriers. Operators of nuclear power plants and the national bulk electric grid. These are among the safest and most reliable work teams in the world. And they don’t try to eliminate all errors and surprises. Decades of experience have shown that the crusade to eliminate every error is both impractical and unwise. So, what do high-reliability work teams do instead? They operate so that errors and surprises don’t disable them. Instead of being brittle or fragile, these teams seek to build resilience.

In the past 30 years, researchers have discovered a few unusual traits that high-reliability organizations share.