What is a typical journey towards HOP?

Published by HOPLAB by Southpac International

What does a typical journey towards HOP look like for an organisation?

One of the most common questions we get asked is, “Where can we find your HOP program?”

It’s a difficult one to answer, first and foremost because Human & Organisational Performance is not a program. (Sorry, there are no posters, either!)

But there are ways we can start to introduce HOP at both an individual and organisational level. Where to start can depend on how familiar the organisation is with HOP principles, and how strong the appetite is at the leadership level to move away from looking at safety through the lens of incident and injury rates, towards operational learning and understanding how work really gets done.

Oftentimes this desire may be evident on the surface, but when it comes to the pointy end, convincing top management to shift away from a blame culture or accept there is a real gap between work as imagined and work as done can be an uphill battle.

While it is rarely linear, these are the phases an organisation will generally go through on the way to adopting HOP.

1. Garnering interest and commitment

The discovery of Human & Organisational Performance is often linked to a senior leader or group of workers within an organisation identifying the need to change and grow. During this phase, it’s critical to secure the interest of decision makers and develop a broad-reaching commitment to the HOP approach.

HOPLAB’s extensive range of free resources is available to help foster interest throughout this phase, including a library of videos, articles and downloadable guides.

Hearing how HOP happens from those who know can also be a powerful first step in securing the support of decision makers. Our HOP team can provide a 1-hour briefing, in person or virtually, to introduce HOP to key internal stakeholders, including senior leaders, executives or Board members.

2. Developing a foundational understanding of the HOP philosophy

For the best results to be achieved, there needs to be a deep understanding of what HOP is, and how the tools and terminology support the adoption of HOP across the organisation. This phase is where you’ll learn the language, concepts and principles that allow for transformational shifts in the way work happens.

Our HOP courses are designed to provide the training that individuals and organisations need to build this foundational knowledge. Initially, the first adopters (generally HSE managers or safety leaders) may want to undertake training through our 1-Day Fundamentals or 3-Day HOP & Learning Teams Course, which are run regularly throughout the year.

Concepts including mistakes and errors, blame vs accountability, performance variability, complex coupling of conditions and the importance of response are introduced and applied to everyday work situations.

Participants in our public courses benefit from the diverse range of organisations and industries represented, allowing for different ideas and perspectives to develop during discussions.

Following this, many leaders will see the value in organising in-house training for HOP & Learning Teams. This provides an opportunity to train a group from within a particularly team, department, or operational area to scale up the organisational knowledge of HOP and bring more personnel up to speed. In-house training also has the advantage of being contextualised to the organisation – so the learnings, examples, and outputs can be highly relevant to each participant.

3. Beginning Operational Learning

Beginning Operational Learning is an early, practical step for an organisation to implement HOP. There is no timeframe for becoming a learning organisation, and tangible results are difficult to measure – especially in the traditional safety sense. Operational Learning is the process of consciously collaborating with those who know the work to understand and improve the work.

There are a number of methods and tools that can be applied, including Learning Teams and Field Insights. When those pieces start to click into place, the real gems appear.

It can take a few interactions for operators to feel genuinely safe to share their real experiences without fear of consequence. Getting Operational Learning right doesn’t happen overnight; trial and error are part of the process. One consistent finding is that if HOP principles are not firmly embedded in how an organisation approaches learning from how work is done – and how leaders respond – the outcomes of Operational Learning can be detrimental. This is why a pilot approach is recommended, as these variables can be tested under the guidance of experienced HOP facilitators.

4. HOP Integration & Alignment

The fourth phase of HOP focuses on integration. It’s about ensuring your management systems, policies, processes and practices align with HOP. It means an organisation-wide commitment to HOP – not just in principle, but in practice.

From our experience, we know there are many organisations doing HOP and benefiting from greater engagement and better performance from their workforce, but there are very few that have achieved true integration of HOP across their operations more broadly.

HOP Integration is supported through leadership mentoring, ongoing training and upskilling of personnel. We’ve been developing a number of tools and resources to support organisations on their way to HOP Integration, including a HOP Maturity Model (the HOP|POD).

This phase in particular is an ongoing process. It’s not ‘once done, always fixed’. Operational Learning continues to play a critical role as HOP Integration matures.

Phases adapted from Andrea Baker (2019) ‘An Introduction to the 5 Phases of HOP Integration’

Want to learn more? 

The goal of the HOPLAB is to help organisations and individuals to learn and reflect

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