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.

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