Friday, November 15, 2019

Successful Behavior

Successful Behavior
By Catalina9

There are two ways of defining the Safety Management System safety policy. One is that the SMS policy is an overarching umbrella that everything else fits under. The other is that the safety policy is a Wheel of Spokes where every spoke, or person is supporting the wheel.

A safety policy a forward-looking guidance policy defining the safety culture. In a safety culture there is trust, learning, accountability and information sharing. When processes or expectations drift outside of the safety policy protection, the human factor behavior is no longer covered by the non-punitive policy. Some of the non-protected behaviors are illegal activity, negligence or willful misconduct. At first sight, including these behaviors, is common sense to anyone. However, at a second look, these behaviors raise the safety-bar to an unlimited safety level. Any enterprise applying the concept that illegal activity, negligence or willful misconduct is not protected by a non-punitive policy has abandoned the principles of SMS and sets the organization up for failure.

Illegal is predefined.

How is illegal activity defined in your organization? If it’s not clearly defined and documented, the policy is only a feel-good policy. For your organization to apply the illegal activity concept, there must be a link between the definition and the safety policy. Negligence must also be defined to comply with the Safety Management System regulations. It must also be linked to the Safety Policy and defined prior to an incident and cannot be defined in a post-incident investigation. Negligence is defined as the lack of completing a task. The enterprise must define these tasks and they must be enforced at all the time. That someone neglects a task, but still operates without an incident, does not qualify that person for an exception to the rule. Neglect must be monitored and enforced continuously. The third side of the SMS pyramid is willful misconduct. Willful misconduct must also be clearly defined and linked to the Safety Policy. It must be established beforehand what willful misconduct is. That someone rear-ends another airplane does not qualify as willful misconduct. During an accident investigation, any action performed by the flight crew could be construed as being willful misconduct. The only way to determine willful misconduct is that a pilot declares their intent. No matter which way one defines illegal activity, negligence or willful misconduct, there is another million ways it could be defined. This raises the safety level bar to an unreachable level.

Success is completing Everest Marathon
A successful Safety Management System is based on human behavior. You may have heard of pilot-error from the old days of safety, when after an accident the task what not to find out what happened, but who to blame. Root cause analysis was simple back then. If blaming the pilot was the true root cause, there would not have been any more accidents since the Tenerife Island disaster in 1977, or even as far back as the Grand Canyon disaster in 1956. Human behavior is not the same as human error, or pilot error. Humans are like lemmings and follow their leader on whatever path the leader takes and no matter where it takes them. What about the Potomac River air disaster, where the First Officer knew that something was wrong, but blindly followed the Captain.

A successful SMS is nothing else but hard work. SMS is a tool to increase the return on investment for both airlines and airports. During the pre-SMS days, the safety cost came disguised as standard operating procedures. People and human factors are the solution to improve safety. It’s not a task incomplete that causes accidents, but human behavior. Human behavior is not to be confused with human error, or pilot error. Human behaviors are either Compliance Behavior or Conformance Behavior. In and SMS world, airlines and airports are tasked with converting Compliance Behavior into Conformance Behavior. If all enterprises are tasks with the same task, why are then some more successful than others?

Some enterprises are more successful than other, because they have learned a successful behavior. This is also called a habit or an attitude. Whatever it’s named, the end result, or outcome, is a behavior. Fear of failure is the most single reason why enterprises run an unsuccessful SMS. It’s scary to take a step into the unknow and delegate authority to the person who is performing the task, being a pilot or airport manager. The CEO or Accountable Executive must have trust in the people they hire. If there is no trust, technical qualifications and experience of an employee becomes irrelevant to aviation safety. At the other end, an employee must have trust in management. This can only be achieved by senior management, the AE, taking the first step, and any continuous steps to instill trust.

Learning is performance energy
The second step for a successful SMS is that learning is a part of everyday activities. In the pre-SMS days, learning was looked upon as lack of knowledge, which then resulted in lack of trust. Nothing can be farther from the truth. A fundamental principle of learning is to link current knowledge to continuous improvement. If the CEO of a large organization stops learning or believe that training is “busy-time”, there is no longer room for an increase in their return on investment. Can you imagine what would happen to a successful organization if a CEO, or AE, issued a statement that there is nothing else in the world they can learn because they learned it 30 years ago and still knows it. A non-training organization would only last as long as the raft floats, or the CEO, receive goodwill from their customers. In other words, their cash flow is solely dependent on a handful of customers and will only be there as long as the connections are stable.  

The third step of a successful SMS i that there is accountability. Accountability is a forward-looking behavior and highly dependent on training and trust. During the pre-SMS days, accountability was always backwards looking. After an incident the task was to hold someone accountable. Senior management was never included in accountability, since it was the pilot’s fault or pilot error. In airport operations, it was the grader operator who did not get off the runway in time for an airplane to land. When accountability is backwards looking, there is no room for continuous safety improvements, since an incident must occur to assign accountability. In an SMS world where there is forward-looking accountability, there are established tasks, goals and objectives. The flight crew of an aircraft preparing for departure has an objective to travel to a destination, with a goal to takeoff from a runway and tasks to complete the checklists. These are successful habits instilled in the flight crew until it becomes a habit.

Success is to stand proud on a mountain top.
The fourth step of a successful SMS is Information Sharing. The tower controller shares information when issuing the takeoff clearance. A pilot share information when entering an equipment malfunction in the logbook. An airport operator is sharing information when issuing an ATIS, or runway surface condition NOTAM. Information Sharing is dependent on accountability, learning and trust. If one or all elements are missing, shared information is not reliable.

A critical key for a successful SMS is task completion and complete the task on-time and to a satisfactory or expected level. If an airline or airport set their personnel up for failure, their SMS cannot function. They must set up all personnel for success. There are two types of behaviors, but only one that are compatible with a successful SMS.

The first behavior is Compliance Behavior, or where an external force is applied to ensure desired behavior. An airline Captain may behave differently when the Chief Pilot is riding in the cockpit than they would with a brand new First Officer on their first flight. Compliance behavior is the most common behavior in organizations, but is extremely labor intensive, ineffective and costly. The second type of behavior is Conformance Behavior. Conformance behavior is when an internal force is applied to conformance. This may also be called habit, attitude or personality. Conformance Behavior is not developed by external enforcement, but is developed with repetition of trust, learning, accountability and information sharing. A successful SMS is hard work, goal achievement plan development and building steps of successful task completions. When operating within a conformance behavior culture the law of attraction seeks other likeminded cultures which lead to continuous success, or success by increments. 


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