HOP Knowledge Hub


Your HOP questions answered…

What is the Blue and the Black line?

Black line thinking is synonymous with planned work, the way we imagine or intend for work to be undertaken based upon the information available to us at the outset of the task. It is not, as is commonly misconstrued, a line of perfection, there may indeed be assumptions, latent conditions or presumptions that will give rise to failure or error. Instead it is a baseline against which variation can be observed.

Blue lines represent this variation by illustrating the way work is actually carried out at the ‘sharp end’ against the linearity of planned work. Thus blue lines show the real-time adaption of front-line operations to the dynamic and complex realities of work.

What is an example of learning teams?

Transpower New Zealand adopted a Learning Team approach to the painting of transmission towers after consulting with Craig Marriott (one of our future speakers).

See the following link for a description:

Why can’t we just have people follow the rules?

People need to understand the value of the rules and why they are there before they will follow them.

Asking if we need rules for certain things is critical for progress.

How come there is so much collaboration in HOP?

HOP is built upon the social science of dialogic organizational development in which our understanding of the world is shaped by the conversations we have and the narratives we adopt.

Transformational change arises therefore from changing these conversations and narratives such that new possibilities and understandings emerge. Some may liken this to the creation of common sense, the creation of a common understanding between all parties, unlike the knowledge vacuum that arise from the dichotomy of work as done and work as imagined.

HOP recognises the plurality of sensemaking, worldviews and perceptions, legitimising participants beliefs and values in a collaborative approach towards performance improvement. Because participants are engaged in a dialogic and safe process of discovery, learning and development opportunities are maximised in a collaborative effort between all parties on an equal footing of mutual benefit.

How does HOP manage beyond ‘paper cuts’ in work health and safety?

Through the use of dialogue and generative practice, HOP moves the discussion from metrics of outcomes and empirical observation, to the aspects of work that matter most to frontline staff, to the issues that have yet to develop into crises or disasters by virtue of workers diligence and resourcefulness in adapting working practices to the dynamic and complex environments they are subject to.

HOP doesn’t reject outright the efficacy of empirical observations associated with traditional safety philosophies, indeed the use of trending data has, and continues to play, a crucial role in organisational intelligence. Instead, HOP works on challenging our assumptions in these metrics by inviting us to explore the way work is really done, particularly where trending data leads to performance improvements in low consequence events such as papercuts, at the cost of the ongoing validation and appraisal of the assumptions underpinning the risk analysis of high consequence undertakings.

The BP or Deepwater Horizon disaster illustrating just such an example where a reliance upon metrics alone facilitated a decoy phenomenon that saw resources being allocated in response to trending data at the expense of validating the assumptions underpinning work as imagined.

How can HOP be only a movement and not a framework?

Human and Organisational Performance is a paradigmatic shift from traditional linear and componential understandings of safety and performance; such that safety and performance are emergent properties of interactions between multiple parts of a system, not the attributes of the particular parts. HOP is thus a movement or perspective and not a framework; an alternative lens through which to observe and make sense of the world around us, by exploring these interactions, interdependencies and reductionist assumptions.

Does HOP only work for big businesses?

HOP is certainly not restricted to big business; indeed, many SME’s have adopted the practice with great success, particularly those operating in dynamic and adaptive environments.

HOP’s success lies in bringing an organisations’ imagined idea of work into closer alignment with how it is actually performed; for large organisations with complicated hierarchal structures there is in inherent gap of distance and time between frontline operations and senior decision makers. For many smaller organisations however, this gap of distance and time can arise for reasons other than organisational tiering, such as dynamic and fast changing operations, remote undertakings, or insufficient understanding of frontline operations. The HOP approach is highly effective therefore in organisations of differing sizes, industries, and maturity.

Why do we need to become error tolerant?

The topic of error has for many years been closely aligned with discussions of blame; however international research has increasingly shown that such determinations are merely a social act in response to error, restricting the opportunities to understand, learn and develop. To err is thus a natural human response to the environmental, social and cognitive conditions that require decisions to be made under uncertainty, it is so innate to our functioning that we build error recovery into everything from keyboards with their delete and backspace buttons, to car air bag systems that protect against not only our own error, but that of others.

HOP works in two ways to address error, firstly by treating error as the starting point for learning and development, not the endpoint or ‘root’ cause; and second, by examining and validating the underlying assumptions of work as imagined through dialogic techniques, such that errors in our assumptions are allowed to surface through inquiry, and where uncertainty prevails, that sufficient capacity is provided to enable the operation and organisation to be resilient, to fail safely.

*Attribution to content ideas from Ben Hutchinson, Andrew BarrettAndy White, Bob Edwards.


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