Reluctance to Simplify

Efficiency and simplicity are not always synonymous. A simple system may be efficient. If, however, that simplistic system allows harmful bacteria to contaminate a food product, the ensuing harm may be quite complex. The HRO management philosophy resists the temptation to simplify. Organizations should constantly create new categories for interpreting the risks and procedural challenges (Weick and Sutcliffe, 2007). Operations or procedures will function best when differentiating categories or labels are accepted by employees. Rather than categorizing all risks into one category, HRO uses subcategories and scrutinizes “examples that fit the category imperfectly to see what new category they suggest” (p. 58). This reluctance to simplify enables HROs to create a language for risk communication that is more sensitive to the dynamic nature of risk. It also allows the HRO to see differences in kinds of risks that might otherwise be overlooked.

Sensitivity to Operations

Simply put, organizations display sensitivity to operations when they attend to “the messy reality inside most organizations” (Weick and Sutcliffe, 2007, p. 59). Routine procedures can lead employees to mindlessly assume that their intentions and expectations reflect reality. In truth, these assumptions can create a false sense of confidence that inhibits the recognition of failures. Sensitivity is the antithesis of these mindless assumptions. Sensitivity to operations is accomplished when organizations “focus on actual work rather than intentions, define actual work by its relationships rather than its parts, and treat routine work as anything but automatic” (p. 62).

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