What is HOP?

What is Human and Organisational Performance?

Human and Organisational Performance – or HOP – is a contemporary perspective on how we can improve work. It focuses on understanding the context and conditions of work, recognising the complex interactions between people and systems. HOP helps us to understand how humans perform and gives us a framework for building more resilient organisations.

Why has HOP emerged?

Burgeoning bureaucracy and increasing compliance demands have led many organisations to search for different ways of doing safety. Some organisations have even felt their safety efforts have made organisational performance worse while delivering no safety benefit.

HOP has developed as an operational philosophy based on the works of thought leaders such as Todd Conklin, Sidney Dekker, James Reason and many more. It takes the perspective that safety is just one of many emergent outcomes from work and focuses on making work better and building capacity to ensure success.

By taking this approach we can improve across a range of outcomes including quality, safety and productivity.

Benefits of HOP

The HOP approach identifies and amplifies the excellence that already exists within an organisation. Focusing on a deep understanding of the work from those who know it best, it optimises system conditions and, where possible, reduces constraints. Ultimately, the focus is on creating the conditions for success – not just to avoid failure. HOP in its very nature does not take a binary view of what is valuable and what is not in safety practice. Rather, HOP:

    • Leverages on worker expertise to build a realistic picture of the operational context;
    • Looks at normal work and capacity thresholds;
    • Provides a platform to listen and learn from workers;
    • Generates conversation around the ‘real’ issues (operator ‘struggles’);
    • Seeks to understand the operational problems and successes;
    • Uncovers problems that may be hidden or unknown;
    • Efficiently generates insights to assist decision making;
    • Uses worker expertise to develop effective and sustainable solutions to problems;
    • Allows for transformative restoration;
    • Engages and empowers the workforce;
    • Provides the opportunity for an inclusive approach, with the ability to break down silos
    • Enhances what is working well, and;
    • Reduces or removes what is no longer useful.

Critically, HOP is an integrative process.
It requires a holistic approach that involves leadership, management systems, people and practices.

HOP is about our conversations, about the way we treat each other, about listening and learning from those who do the work, and appreciating their depth of knowledge in the way operations run.

Organisations that have adopted HOP have experienced:

  • Uncovering rich and relevant operational insights to better influence decisions at a leadership level;
  • Getting a collective understanding of normal work, critical defences and capacity
  • Greater engagement, accountability and empowerment of the workforce
  • More productive responses and approaches to failure
  • Innovative and applicable solutions for sustained work improvements
  • Overcoming roadblocks and building systems that enable and support the work
  • Enhanced performance across a range of measures
  • Decluttering systems and processes for increased relevance in operations
  • Reduced bureaucracy and more focused processes and work practices


What are the benefits of the HOP Approach?

The Fundamentals of Human & Organisational Performance

Human and Organisational Performance is based on five principles that shape and influence the way organisations think, act, view success and respond to failure. These five principles are integrative and work together to change the way we think about work and how to improve it.

People Make Mistakes

We all know mistakes happen. But it is still too common to see accidents and incidents attributed to human error. HOP takes the view that error is normal and is rarely a cause but rather a symptom of complexities within the system that created it.

Blame may feel satisfying in the short term, however in the long run, blame generally does much more harm than good. The HOP perspective is that those involved in accidents and incidents have an important role to play in the process of restoring and learning to create better outcomes for others.

Blame Fixes Nothing

Context Drive Behaviour

When we look at the context in which work or normal operations happen, we observe the conditions that are driving or shaping behaviours. This includes conflicts, trade offs, resources and constraints – even organisational or societal expectations – that all have an influence on how work is done. HOP embraces a systems-based view of understanding and improving the complex world of work we manage.

Often our tools for learning are focused on compliance and telling rather than listening, learning and understanding. When things go wrong, we must decide if we want to blame and punish or learn and improve. Learning about the deeper story yields much richer information about how work really gets done that enables us to make more appropriate and effective changes and improvements.

Learning is Vital

Response Matters

When things go wrong, we look to how our leaders respond. HOP allows us to contain our response to failure. Responding with empathy, understanding and curiosity is essential to cultivating an atmosphere where learning and improvement can happen. Creating this environment of psychological safety in turn leads to more effective action and a more engaged workforce.

What are the differences between HOP, Safety II and Safety Differently?

We often get asked how the terms Safety II (Safety 2) and Safety Differently relate or compare to Human & Organisational Performance? There are a number of terms being used to describe different facets of what has been collectively referred to as the “new view” of safety. While they have different origins, many of these terms have arrived in a very similar destination. The approaches and methods that are accepted, promoted or utilised by HOP practitioners would be equally useful for an organisation adopting a Safety II or Safety Differently approach.

Want to learn more?

Contact us for a free introduction to HOP.

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HOPLAB – a virtual platform for sharing new ideas, research, opinions and stories in a collaborative approach towards excellence in human and organisational performance.

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The HOPLAB is a space for sharing new ideas, research, opinions and experiences that support the application of Human and Organisational Performance.

It brings HOP practitioners, researchers and thought leaders together in one space, designed to share, collaborate and innovate to create better solutions. It’s a wealth of knowledge on all things HOP, proudly brought to you by Southpac International.