Friday, 24 May 2019

Learning from Mistakes

If you’re anything like me, you HATE making mistakes.  None of us begin the day (I hope) thinking “how many errors can I make today?”, but we’re all human and so likely to have “off moments” which cause mistakes.

In my time working with the aviation industry, I’ve been impressed by the approach it takes to mistakes and safety.  Anything that can be a lesson in how to do things more safely is distributed so that others can use it, making aviation one of the safest industries in the world.

When investigating mistakes, one technique used is to analyse what are known as Contributing Factorsand Performance Inducing Factors.  These can be defined as follows:

Contributing Factors (CF): 
A condition or activity that contributes to the hazard or makes it more likely to happen.

Performance Inducing Factors (PIF): 
A condition or activity that acts on how a person performs an activity that contributes to the hazard or makes it more likely to happen.

A simple example of a Contributing Factor would be the classic slapstick comedy situation of a banana peel being left on the floor.  Someone slips on it and takes a fall (hopefully, without serious injury).   The CF here is the banana peel.

A Performance Inducing Factor would typically occur in a situation where someone was under pressure to get a job done fast, with the increased likelihood that they would ignore certain steps in a process that they feel prevent the job being done quickly, but which result in more time being pent correcting their error.

Another typical example of a Contributing Factor is an out of date manual that gives incorrect instructions.  By following the manual as written, one is bound to make a mistake.  Alternatively, the guidelines written by “Compliance” may upset customers who take it out on staff.  In this case the Performance Inducing Factor is the staff not weaning to deal with an irate customer (possible losing business for their employer) and thereby ignoring a process that is intended to safeguard the employer’s interests (albeit at the expense of an upset customer).

At times, both Contributing Factors and Performance Inducing Factors  will be present!

How many Contributing Factors and Performance Inducing Factors could we eliminate if we talked to the people that matter – our staff and customers?

I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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