Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Vital Few Or Trivial Many

The vital few or trivial many is the bumper-car process and found in a non-structured environment where priorities becomes to work on the "trivial many" rather than the "vital few", or the 80/20 rule. 

In a Safety Management System (SMS) an enterprise establishes Policies, Objectives, Goals and Parameters. A Safety Policy in aviation is an assurance to the flying public that the air operator maintains regulatory compliance and does not compromise aviation safety. A Safety Policy is a commitment that every time the public go flying, they can expect a safe and uneventful flight.

Bumper-cars is a messy process, but in control as expectations to the objectives. 
Regulations are performance based, or in other words, established objectives. The first step in a regulatory based environment is to ensure regulatory compliance by establishing the regulations as objectives. Everything else is incidental to the operation.

One regulatory objective is to have procedures for reporting hazards, incidents and accidents. Derived from this objective are goals, which establishes that there are communication processes in place that permit the SMS to function effectively. With processes defined, parameters are established as numerical values in order to determine by Statistical Process Control (SPC) if the processes are in control and results are acceptable.

Over time a process may become unnoticeable obsolete until point of no return.
An SMS system includes other regulatory objective such as performance goals and a means of measuring attainment of those goals. Goals are guidance of how to reach objectives and the means to reach these goals are processes with established parameters. Numeric parameters are applied  to analyze if processes are in control. However, a process in control could be just as ineffective as an out-of-control process. Random discovery of hazards could show a process in control, but it is not as effective as active hazard discovery. To pilots this is known as "scanning". A pilot may be looking outside through the windshield, but hazards may not be discovered unless there is an active scanning process of the horizon.  

Compliance with regulations is to conform to the objectives as defined by regulations; it's to establish goals of what is expected to be achieved; it's to set numerical parameters and to complete the circle with SPC to ensure in-control processes.
The key to success is to be removed from the trivial bumper-car processes to focus on the vital few objectives.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Process Matters

Changes are often difficult to accept and to put in effort to make it work. When new things are introduced there are often skepticism and opposition. At times these arguments make conflicts within an organization. It might be tempting not to make changes just to keep peace in the valley. Personnel who don't like changes make their own changes by making hurtles to stop the new process. That's in itself is a change and an ineffective process. 

Process Matters – Get the material first and then build.
The process matters to everyone, for or against. It matters to the ones who want a change in the process and it matters to those who opposes. If processes didn't matter there would be no need to plan, do act and check. Processes are how we do things. Most of us have a process of how to get dressed in the morning. Some of the steps may not be in the same order each day, while there are other steps that must conform to a required process. Socks must come on before the shoes.

When changes become personal issue, the changes are no longer operational process changes, but process protection of independent comfort. The fear of change is the fear of loosing a stable and comfortable position. A comfortable position may not be productive or produce a profit, but at least it is comfortable. 

Process Matters – Get the tracks first then move the freight.
In an organization with flexible processes personnel adapt easier to changes. These are not variable processes, just flexible, and allowing resilience. Knowledge of how to improve a process is at the level of competence. Inputs for process changes (which is a process in itself) have better rate of success if all levels of competence in an organization is included. When including suggestions and addressing objections during the planning phase changes do not become strange competition to comfort, but just changes to the processes.

Processes matters to all.  It matters to those who say it doesn't (or they wouldn't have objected) and it matters to those who embrace process changes.