High-Reliability Organizations

High-Reliability Organizations

High-Reliability Organizations

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High-Reliability Organizations

High-reliability organizations (HRO) are types of organizations that function in multifaceted and high-threat domains for lengthy periods without causing severe accidents or some catastrophic failures. These organizations typically operate under some conditions which are incredibly challenging, and despite this challenging situation, they experience fewer glitches than what would be expected since they tend to have developed some means of managing the unexpected in a better method compared to most of the organizations. This notion of HROs arose from the organizations’ studies which were projected to provide precise results reliably notwithstanding being in very hazardous and complex settings (Roberts, 2015). For some time, the aircraft carrier, the nuclear power plants as well as the air traffic system, have existed among the organizations regarded to have the aptitude of providing high reliability plus safety when failures could be catastrophic.

In this point, the healthcare domain description is discussed as an excellent example. The technique which these organizations have utilized is significant since they help to prevent some imminent danger which can be life-threatening. The concept of high reliability is typically effective and attractive for healthcare, because of the intricacy of processes which usually happens at the healthcare sector as well as the risk of substantial and potentially disastrous consequences when some failure occurs in healthcare domain. In some circumstances, individuals usually interpret high reliability as a meaningful standardization of the healthcare processes. Nevertheless, the ideologies of high reliability usually go beyond standardization; as high reliability is well termed as a circumstance of obstinate mindfulness in an organization (Reason, 2016). Therefore high-reliability organization tends to encourage resilience through persistently highlighting safety above some other measures of performance.

The primary public response may be shock, sad and fury for example when something dreadful which was unexpected occurs within a high-reliability organization. However, an individual who is observant and insightful will note that these kind of organizations are capable of succeeding with any regularity at all and if it fails it is not occasional.

Characteristics of High-Reliability Organizations

The high-reliability organizations usually use systems intelligence while evaluating and also designing for safety and thus they tend to be intensely conscious that safety is an emergent relatively than fixed stuff. In the world accidents and threats do happen daily and hence some new threats and obstacles to safety regularly emerge, and therefore it is better for these organizations always to be changing their security measures with time. Thus, the high-reliability organizations usually work to build an atmosphere in which some probable problems are expected, identified early, and finally, it is virtually worked on early to avert disastrous consequences. Some researchers revealed some elements which the high-reliability organizations collectively share, and they discovered this while they were examining out how these organizations operate (Andriulo et al., p.468) Therefore these characteristics which they came up with are vital for evading a significant failure or some disastrous occasions despite functioning in a risky background where some lives are at risk. These characteristics include the following:

Preoccupation with Failure

The high-reliability organizations tend not to disregard any failure, whether the disaster is small or big since any nonconformity from the unanticipated result can mount into a tragedy. Individuals commonly recognize that new dangers regularly develop from some circumstances that no individual imagined that it could happen. Thus all the personnel vigorously contemplate about what could go erroneous, and hence they are observant to minor signs of potential hitches. The nonexistence of faults or accidents typically leads not to gratification but a delicate thought of awareness for the following possible failure. In these organizations, near misses are regarded as chances of learning about the system issues as well as the proposed developments, relatively than acting as safety evidence (Antonsen, 2017). Therefore it is always substantial for these organizations to always discover and address any level of mechanical, human or system failure as soon as possible and completely.

Reluctance to Simplify

By definition, high-reliability organizations tend to be multifaceted, and thus they assent and also embrace that intricacy. These organizations do not elucidate away some problems, and instead, they execute root cause scrutiny of the problem, and hence they discard simple analyses. The organizations identify the importance of standardization of workflows aimed at reducing variation, and moreover, they appreciate the intricacy characteristic in the teams’ numbers, relationships as well as the processes involved in performing the daily operations.

Sensitivity towards Operations

Centered on their familiarity with operating complexity, individuals in high-reliability organizations try to uphold a high consciousness of operative conditions. The high-reliability organizations recognize that the best part of the existing situation, for example, an unexpected happening emerges after the front line. The frontline workers in the organization are typically closer to work compared to the management leadership, and therefore they are well positioned in their respective locations to recognize failure as well as well as detect some opportunities for enhancement. Moreover, the front line workforces are the ones who are familiar with most of the organization’s equipment and their functioning properties.

Commitment to Resilience

In high-reliability organizations, the aptitude to forestall some trouble spots or imminent danger as well as improvising when the unexpected happens is referred to as resilience. Therefore commitment towards resilience is grounded in the essential understanding of the occasionally impulsive nature of some system catastrophes. The individuals who are in these organizations undertake that the system is always at threat for failure, and thus they frequently conduct quick assessments of the systems and also provides some reactions to challenging circumstances (Andriulo et al., p.470). Moreover, the teams develop some condition assessment as well as performing cross-checking aimed at identifying prospective safety coercions rapidly, and they either react before the safety hitches lead to damage or they moderate the weightiness of the safety event. Therefore these organizations are mandated to be competent to recognize errors for rectification whereas at the same time they are revolutionizing solutions inside a vibrant environment

Deference to Expertise

In a high-reliability organization, expertise, relatively than authority usually takes superiority as it regarded to carry more weight in the organization. When there is an imminent danger, for example, a crucial system is about to go down, or when conditions are at high-risk experts in this situation are needed most. These experts are quite important especially on the ground for the critical circumstance assessment as well as providing the necessary response. Therefore, individuals in these organizations usually tend to appreciate that the individuals who are next to the work are the best experienced concerning the work which they do. Hence, these individuals who are in these establishments recognize that in crisis or case of an emergency the individual who possesses much knowledge of the existing situation mostly is not the individuals with ranks, for instance, the organization’s manager (Roberts, 2015). Therefore in high-reliability organizations, every individual is likely to share concerns with the other members in the organization and moreover ensure that the organizational climate if conducive such that all the members are contented in communicating about possible safety problems. This usually results in the effective running of the organizations as everything seems to be flowing smoothly and thus the possibility of identifying and handling a specific safety problem is well tackled.

Principles of High-Reliability Organizations in a Health Care Setting

The nuclear power plants, aircraft carriers, as well as the health care system, all strive to become high-reliability organizations. In the health care setting, is significant to identify that normalization is indispensable, but it is not adequate for attaining resilient as well as reliable health care systems. Subsequently, high-reliability is considered a continuous process or an organization mind frame and not an explicit structure. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has some defined real-world policies aimed at health care organizations. According to the Joint committee of the Agency, the hospitals, as well as the health care organizations, should strive to come up with a solid basis, before they can start to mature as high-reliability organizations (Desai et al., 2016, p.207). Mounting a leadership commitment towards zero-harm objectives, establishing an active safety culture and also introducing a vigorous process enhancement philosophy are some of the foundational mechanisms.

In the healthcare setting, under the principle of preoccupation with failure, it is recommended not to cultivate some crippling anxiety. This is because it can interfere with an individual in the healthcare, for example, the medical practitioners to work, but should realize the importance of their position. Moreover, some of the repetitive tasks like data entry may sometimes seem to be boring, but care plus good judgment is critical to offering the best care for the patients. Subsequently, being absent-mindedness may result in the death of a patient.

Under the reluctant to simplify, it is advisable to not jump into conclusions. It is good to understand the complexity of the organization as well as that of the patient. Also conducting a logical-based root cause analyses aimed at analyzing events is vital and an individual, for example, a nurse should not consent themselves to become bogged down by intricacy (Provost et al., 2015, p.6). However, they should be careful to avoid mental traps for instance overgeneralization.

In the sensitivity to operations principle, an individual should generate their most significant effort to comprehend the reasoning behind strategies besides and conventions. They need to reflect how actions are affecting the results on a greater scale. Moreover grasping the standard practice can as well consent the individual to become more aware of the area which needs some improvements.

The commitment to resilience principle is about pushing through the setbacks. A medical practitioner should contemplate faults as chances for improvement. Also, it is significant to vigorously strive to overcome disapproval and not giving up when life seems not to go as planned.

Deference to expertise suggests the medical practitioners be conscious of their strengths and flaws and also respect to respect the work as well as the knowledge of other healthcare experts (Desai et al., 2016, p.204). Moreover, contribute evidence-based concepts on best practice with adequate self-assurance, but it is also good for an individual to be with their selves and others if one tends to encounter an issue they cannot solve immediately and if it is left unsolved it can result to some tragedy.

Thus if everyone in the organization follows all these principles effectively, it will lead to the success of the healthcare system at large as all the described above will result to high reliability in not only the health care sector but also in other organizations like in business. Moreover, it is substantial to note that even if the business an individual is dealing with does not deal in life as well as death affairs, there some valuable lessons that can be learned from those that operate in high-reliability organizations like in healthcare.


Andriulo, S., Arleo, M. A., de Carlo, F., Gnoni, M. G., & Tucci, M. (2015). Effectiveness of maintenance approaches for High Reliability Organizations. IFAC-PapersOnLine, 48(3), 466-471.

Antonsen, S. (2017). Safety culture: theory, method and improvement. CRC Press.

Desai, V., Madsen, P. M., & Roberts, K. H. (2016). High-reliability organizations in health care. In Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care and Patient Safety (pp. 200-211). CRC Press.

Provost, S. M., Lanham, H. J., Leykum, L. K., McDaniel Jr, R. R., & Pugh, J. (2015). Health care huddles: Managing complexity to achieve high reliability. Health care management review, 40(1), 2-12.

Reason, J. (2016). Managing the risks of organizational accidents. Routledge.

Roberts, K. H. (2015). High‐Reliability Organizations. Wiley Encyclopedia of Management, 1-2.