August 9 (the second Monday of the month) is the 92nd meeting for Systems Thinking Ontario. The registration will be on Eventbrite at https://normal-accidents-st-on.eventbrite.ca.
Normal Accidents, High Reliability, Wicked Messes
Have we learned from brushes with disaster, or have we become complacent about complexities in everyday life?
On March 28, 1979, an accident with a nuclear reactor occurred at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania. Twelve days earlier, an Academy Awards winning film The China Syndrome had opened with a story fictionalized from a 1975 fire at a nuclear plant in Brown's Ferry, Alabama, raising public awareness of an issue. For a Presidential Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, sociologist Charles Perrow contributed organizational analysis report. On a sabbatical to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1981-1982, that report expanded to include other high-risk systems, becoming the Normal Accidents book, published in 1984.
In the 1990s, a group at Berkeley initiated by Todd LaPorte noticed some high-hazard organizations who able to consistently manage risks to be failure-free. The organizations included the (i) Air Traffic Control System (FAA); (ii) Electric Operations and Power Generations Departments (Pacific Gas and Electric); and (ii) peacetime flight operations in the U.S. Navy. These cases were studies as High Reliability Organizations.
This Systems Thinking Ontario session will be led as a discussion group by David Ing. A short introduction will be provided. Participants will then be encouraged to contribute their impressions of the pre-readings, relate their experiences and/or ask questions.
The link for a Zoom conference will be sent upon preregistration.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic OCADU, sLab (Strategic Innovation Lab), 205 Richmond Street West, Room 410 is not available!
Articles in reflection:
Le Coze, Jean-Christophe Le. 2015. “1984–2014. Normal Accidents. Was Charles Perrow Right for the Wrong Reasons?” Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 23 (4): 275–86. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-5973.12090. [alternative search on Google Scholar]
Bourrier, Mathilde. 2011. “The Legacy of the High Reliability Organization Project.” Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 19 (1): 9–13. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5973.2010.00628.x. [alternative search on Google Scholar]
Mitroff, Ian I., and Ralph H. Kilmann. 2021. “Wicked Messes: The Ultimate Challenge to Reality.” In The Psychodynamics of Enlightened Leadership: Coping with Chaos, 21–24. Management, Change, Strategy and Positive Leadership. Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71764-3_3. (open access as Chapter 3)
Mitroff, Ian I., and Ralph H. Kilmann. 2021. “Heuristics and Meta-Heuristics for Coping with Messes.” In The Psychodynamics of Enlightened Leadership: Coping with Chaos, 49–58. Management, Change, Strategy and Positive Leadership. Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71764-3_8. (open access as Chapter 8)
Perrow, Charles. 1984. Normal Accidents: Living with high risk technologies. New York: Basic Books. [preview of updated 2011 edition on Google Books]
LaPorte, Todd R., and Paula M. Consolini. 1991. “Working in Practice But Not in Theory: Theoretical Challenges of ‘High-Reliability Organizations.’” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 1 (1): 19–48. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.jpart.a037070. [alternate search on Google Scholar]
Rochlin, Gene I. 1996. “Reliable Organizations: Present Research and Future Directions.” Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 4 (2): 55–59. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5973.1996.tb00077.x. [alternate search on Google Scholar]
LaPorte, Todd R. 1996. “High Reliability Organizations: Unlikely, Demanding and At Risk.” Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 4 (2): 60–71. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5973.1996.tb00078.x. [alternate search on Google Scholar]
Bloggers are encouraged to write about their learning and experiences at the meeting. Links will be added to this page.