Excellent Behaviors: Assessing Relationships in the Operational Excellence Ecosystem
One of the hot business buzzwords of 2017 is “Operational Excellence.” It has been the subject for many pundits, including this one.
In October and November we published a two part series, Assuring Operational Excellence from Contractors and Their Subcontractors through BTOES Insights. Each part included a link to additional information.
The October edition featured an excerpt of our Implementing a Culture of Safety book. In the November edition we released our new best practice solution, Attaining & Sustaining Operational Excellence: A Best Practice Implementation Model. We are proud to make it available herein and in general.
One of the basic tenets of the RBC Framework is the general construct that Relationships cannot be determined a priori. The well-used example is a man and a woman sitting on a bench at a bus stop. Are they married, siblings, coworkers, friends or simply two people waiting to catch the same/different bus?
Their relationship cannot be known directly. However, their Behaviors will provide insight into how they relate to each other. Romantic behavior may indicate marriage, dating, an affair etc. They may still be coworkers but most likely are not strangers.
The third dimension, Conditions (environment) can be considered the stage upon which behaviors play. So, what does this have to do with Operational Excellence?
Another component of our digital environment is Human Systems Integration (HSI). In our forthcoming book, we have defined HSI as, “Human Systems Integration (HSI) considers the following seven domains: Manpower, Personnel, Training, Human Factors Engineering, Personnel Survivability, Habitability, and Environment, Safety and Occupational Health (ESOH). In simple terms, HSI focuses on human beings and their interaction with hardware, software, and the environment.”
This suggest that our ecosystem is getting more complex and not less. While not usually thought of in these terms, machines have a behavior as well. IBM’s chess playing Watson is a simple example of this phenomena.
With all of these behavioral dynamics, how can an organization attain and sustain Operational Excellence? If one takes the position that with complex highly interconnected systems things will fail (Perrow’s Normal Accident Theory) then OE is a mythical destination.
However, with a High Reliability Management (HRM) business model OE cannot only be attained, there is no reason why it cannot be sustained indefinitely. As the name indicates, HRM has a strong focus on reliability or that ability to recover quickly when an event occurs.
One example is the 2015 Ebola virus incident in Dallas, Texas. One may recall that the virus was brought to the US by a traveler from Africa. Concerns quickly mounted that an epidemic might quickly ensue.
While a few health care workers were infected, the public health care systems, medical community and others rapidly responded and contained the problem. The system was resilient! Were there problems and lessons learned, absolutely but the system worked. For most of us, life soon returned to normal.
Conditions may change, but behaviors need to continue to rise to levels of excellence. This is the key to developing strong relationships throughout the ecosystem.
Critical Mass: Value from the RBC Framework
Nuclear physicists define the term, “critical mass” as the amount of fissile material whereby a nuclear reaction is self-sustaining. From that original definition, the construct is further developed along societal and political terms as a function of the environment and number of adopters and their interdependencies that create enough of a consensus for individual actions that sustains an undertaking.
In 1996, the author published the first of several case studies on a societal interaction model based on the Relationships, Behavior and Conditions (RBC) construct among economic actors. Previously the model was only in the domain of academia.
This blog addresses contemporary issues from the RBC perspective and whether in the present state they are sustainable or not. Many readers may be familiar with the “Innovation Adoption Curve.” RBC seeks to enlighten the causality of behaviors that cause movement towards the critical mass that generates movement along this diffusion curve.
Other Blogs by Dr. Shemwell
Dr. Shemwell is an author/contributor for the following 3rd party blogs.
So, You Want to be an Entrepreneur
Dr. Shemwell is a member of the Global Energy Mentors (GEM) Leadership Team. Every month he or one of his colleagues is posting timely tips to help entrepreneurs navigate the energy start up sector. Check out the Landing Page.
Governing Energy Blog
BTOES Insights is the content portal for Business Transformation & Operational Excellence opinions, reports & news. Dr. Shemwell is a contributor.
Consult 2050 connects organizations with a wide range of consultants all around the world. The firm operates an online marketplace for consultancy services.
Essays on Business and Information
This two volume set covers a series of newsletters and opinion pieces published circa 2002-2009, including Bug Lore–Lessons for the Online Economy that addressed real time systems vulnerabilities from Y2K (1998-99).
About the Author
Dr. Scott M. Shemwell has over 30 years technical and executive management experience primarily in the energy sector. He is the author of six books and has written extensively about the field of operations. Shemwell is the Managing Director of The Rapid Response Institute, a firm that focuses on providing its customers with solutions enabling Operational Excellence and regulatory compliance management. He has studied cultural interactions for more than 30 years—his dissertation; Cross Cultural Negotiations Between Japanese and American Businessmen: A Systems Analysis (Exploratory Study) is an early peer reviewed manuscript addressing the systemic structure of societal relationships.