Our extensive experience across a range of industries means that high-reliability thinking is applied to each new scope of work that is taken on by Accuratus.
People and groups from these industries; including health, food and oil and gas, may already be familiar with the term HRO. If not, HRO is a High-Reliability Organisation. HRO’s are preoccupied with failure, since even the most minor error, can become catastrophic. As a result, HRO’s are the leading business performers across the world.
What makes an HRO different?
HRO’s are often considered ‘obsessed’ with safety and quality. Senior executives across HRO’s prioritise safety and operational excellence above all else, knowing that increased profit will follow. Due to the very nature of high-risk operations, the need for proactive and preventative management is critical; a single failure for the first time may be catastrophic.
The high-reliability organisation prioritises data-driven decision making, designs open-ended and flexible management systems, continuously manages and mitigates risk (and opportunity), while also being actively responsive to change within, and outside, of control. The culture is one which maintains a commitment to people, environment, asset, protection of reputation and business continuity; this is what sets an HRO apart as best practice operators in any field.
How does an HRO think?
It is 2015. A group of medical professionals sit around a board room table, experts in their technical field. They have been covering the same topic since 8 am; it is now 4 pm. The session is about risk and operational continuity. High-reliability organisations use data and patterns of the past to identify emerging risk in the future.
On this day, the topic of discussion is a global epidemic. They are discussing the potential threat of a worldwide pandemic which would heighten the load on hospital facilities and health workers. World Health Organisation (WHO) data is indicating that every six years, the world has been faced with an epidemic. In 1997 it was Avian Bird Flu, 2003 SARS and 2009 H5N1; before that, it was the HIV/AIDS peak in 1981. Though a short pattern of data, it is impossible to rule out the threat of another virus in the near future due to the frequency of epidemics over the prior decades.
The objective of the day is to determine the likelihood and consequences if the risk is realised. Using internal and external expert opinion, data and trends, and leading research, they can determine the likelihood/consequence of the risk and from this point and develop mitigation strategies.
Throughout assessment of the risk, the team develop continuity plans, risk strategies and processes to support the management of the risk if it were to be realised. They are preparing themselves for any eventuality. Mitigation plans may include trained first responders, drills and containment plans.
They do this knowing that the risk may never be realised as the prior pandemics have mostly avoided Australia, but HRO’s are prepared for anything that may impact the safety and quality of their operation.
While it could not have been predicted that SARS-CoV-2 would emerge in December 2019 in the markets of Wuhan, China, the prior existence of global respiratory diseases is well-known. Historical data relating to these outbreaks would form the basis of that fictional conversation in 2015 to assist the team to determine the threat level its consequences. To paraphrase the words of Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defence; “We know what we know, we know a little about what we don’t know, and we don’t know what we don’t know”.
HRO’s need to know; they rely on expert opinion and actively seek knowledge and information. An exercise such as the one described would include a panel of experts on virology, preferably those with prior experience of global pandemics.
Is HRO for all industries?
It can be considered that HRO is an expensive process, and it is. But is it too expensive? The answer is no. While the risk to health and oil and gas can be catastrophic, safety, quality and reputation are not exclusive to these industries. Any industry that relies on people and the environment and is responsible for quality should be established to think like an HRO. Cost is commensurate with the risk of realisation.
Are you set up to think like an HRO?
If an organisation is accredited to ISO9001 or any other Standard of safety, quality or health, then thinking like an HRO should be in place. Unfortunately, it is rarely seen outside of recognised best-practice organisations. Risk management is a technical skill and requires an organisational commitment which is of the highest priority.
HRO’s are reluctant to simplify operations and cut corners. ISO9001 Standard requirements around people and environment, material traceability, business continuity and risk management are treated with the highest importance. Senior management is continuously and actively reviewing data and performance metrics relating to operational excellence and seeking out emerging trends.
Is it too late?
As we now see SARS-CoV-2 sweep the globe, there is much speculation about what this will mean for every business. The disease is forecast to have an extensive impact on life and the threat of a global recession looms large as many countries enter quarantine. While some risks positively favour the market, others can have catastrophic outcomes. HRO’s are structured to be continuously aware, manage and mitigate risk through culture, practices and processes and as a result, are prepared for most outcomes. HRO’s have established risk management, operational excellence and business continuity plans which see them through times even as challenging as a global pandemic.
Speak to Accuratus. We can assist business of any size to think and act like a High-Reliability Organisation.