High Reliability Organizations

Testing & Finance 2012 : “Ford’s Lean”

During our Testing & Finance 2012 talk we demonstrated how the concepts used by HROs can be used to manage the operational risks faced by modern financial institutions.

At financial institutions, the Chief Risk Officer’s primary concern is detecting and preventing catastrophes before they occur, i.e. managing risk. While financial risks are important, operational risks are becoming more so. Controlling these risks requires a new attitude to making changes, testing, releasing software and developing the right team. Continue reading

Notes on High Reliability Organizations

This article is based on research we did on High Reliability Organizations (HROs) for our Testing and Finance 2012 talk. It intended as a starting point for those interested in learning more about HROs. If nothing else, it provides an extended reference section for further reading and suggests some useful web resources.

What is an HRO?

HROS are organizations that succeed in avoiding catastrophes in an environment where accidents can be expected due to risk factors and the complexity of the system. Consider, for example, the organization behind oilrigs where it is easy to imagine someone getting injured due to a mistake. What starts out as a small mistake may quite literally explode into a big problem. As Tim Harford notes: Continue reading