Human Performance Fundamentals: A New Way of Thinking
What is human performance? Good results can be achieved with questionable behavior. However, for long-term, sustained value-added results, one must look closely at behavior; what influences it, motivates it, provokes it, shapes it, inhibits it, directs it, etc. Very simply then, human performance is behavior plus results (P = B + R). iiGilbert, Human Competence, Engineering Worthy Performance. 1974, pp. 15-19.
Behavior is what people do and say - a means to an end. During tasks involving manual effort, behavior is an observable act that can be seen and heard. It can be measured. If it can be measured, it can be changed. Consistent behavior is necessary for consistent results. For example, a youth baseball coach cannot just shout at a 10-year old pitcher from the dugout to "throw strikes." The child may not know how and will become frustrated. To be effective, the coach must teach specific techniques-behaviors-that will help the child throw strikes more consistently. This is followed up with effective coaching and positive reinforcement. People will make mistakes despite their best efforts. Therefore, behavior and its causes are extremely valuable as the signal for improvement efforts to anticipate, prevent, catch, or recover from errors. Whereas this discussion addresses individual behavior, it should be noted that individual behavior is strongly influenced by organizational behavior. Organizational behavior is in turn a reflection of its safety culture.
Performance connotes measurable results. Results, good or bad, are the outcomes of behavior — the mental processes and physical efforts to perform a task.iiiReber, Dictionary of Psychology, 1995, 2nd ed., pp. 86-87. In our industry the "end" is that set of outcomes manifested by people's health and wellbeing, the environment, the safe, reliable and efficient production of defense products, the discovery of new materials, the invention and testing of new products and the disposition of legacy wastes and facilities. Events usually involve challenges to reactor safety (where applicable), industrial/radiological safety, environmental safety and productivity. Event-free performance is the desired result. Event-free performance depends on reducing error both where people touch the facility and touch the paper (procedures, instructions, drawings, specifications and the like). Event-free performance is also dependent on ensuring the integrity of defenses, controls, barriers, and safeguards against the residual errors that still occur.
Anatomy of an Event
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