Friday, February 24, 2017

Defined Roles For The Accountable Executive

A system without defined roles has little or no chance to function as intended. Lets for a minute look at a None Destructive Testing system, or NDT. NDT is a system to detect “undetectable” flaws in a material, or if production process produces output of flaws in the material. There are different independent system within an NDT system and none of these systems are compatible to interact with any of the other systems. The major NDT inspection systems are X-ray inspection, ultrasound inspection, magnetic particle Inspection and fluorescent penetrant inspection.

A system of defined roles within a process.
The system of X-ray inspection is applied to inspect for flaws within a material to relatively fine and defined resolutions.  Ultrasound is also applied to inspect for flaws within a material, but to a relatively course and undefined resolutions. Magnetic particle inspection is applied to both internal and external material flaws discovery. The NDT inspection system applied for external inspection of flaws is the fluorescent penetrant inspection. Within an NDT system all these independent systems function to produce an outcome of an effective system that will function as it was designed to function. None of these methods of NDT inspections are inferior to one or the other, they are just a part of one total system to manage, or lead processes to produce a flawless output.

Within an SMS system the functions of each system, or defined roles are hidden within human factors. In contradiction to mechanical systems, human factors include unpredictable variations. These variations are harnessed by defining roles for each person within an SMS system.

The accountable executive has certain defined roles which the AE must perform for the total system to function, without expectations that another person will pick up where the AE did not fulfil the role. The role of an accountable executive is to fuel the SMS system with safety. An effective AE is involved strategically rather than operationally for the SMS system to have an anchor point within the organization.

Without defining the roles or to assume a person should know better is often how unsuccessful businesses are operating. The definition of those systems is for a person to apply variations and pick up the slack as they see fit. Within an NDT world of systems, this would compare to placing an
Fill in the blanc and play that role.
aircraft jet-engine disk in the dark room for fluorescent penetrant inspection and expect an x-ray image to be produced by that process. The only way, and the process of which flaws in the jet-engine disk is discovered is to apply the fluorescent penetrant inspection as the process was intended.

An accountable executive has defined roles for one reason only, and that if for the SMS system to be effective where processes are producing outputs of what the processes were designed for. This does not imply that the processes should not, or does not identify flaws within the activities, but rather confirm that the processes of an effective SMS system identify both normal variations and special cause variations. In an NDT world, a jet-engine disk could be acceptable without flaws, or the process, when applied correctly, could identify an unlikely flaw in the material.