Influencing Others at Work (Institute of Learning & Management Super Series)

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Another tool under research involves using wrist actigraphs to provide an objective measure of how much sleep an individual has gotten.

Actigraph data are then entered into a mathematical performance model, which was developed by the Department of Defense DOD and Department of Transportation to identify when people are at risk, and when they are better able to perform their jobs safely. Although existing models examined these issues at the organizational level, they are now being adapted to predict fatigue at the individual level. Vila noted that there are many knowledge gaps. How do you measure resilience? What are your baseline measures? How can you measure fatigue risks for law enforcement officers?

Is it best to look at the effect of fatigue on situational resilience? What are the maximum safe hours on duty for different assignments? What is the ideal timing of shift changes? Can you measure staffing and distraction in patrol vehicles? The research is continuous.

Power and Influence in Organizations

Woods discussed systems-level resilience and brittleness and made observations about the challenges DHS faces in developing an overall resilience strategy. Reiterating a common theme throughout the workshop series, Woods noted there is a language problem between different communities involved in resilience and resilience-related work. The languages in these various fields of research have evolved in different ways, and often the same words are used to mean very different things, and different words are used to mean exactly the same things. Woods summarized the five basic characteristics of HROs: preoccupation with failure, reluctance to simplify, sensitivity to operations, commitment to resilience, and deference to expertise.

For example, pre-occupation. Thus, research on HROs has revealed some of the components of proactive safety management. Proactive safety management within HROs and other complex systems is more than just rebounding from a stressful event. HROs are able to anticipate and prepare for new threats. The commitment to the characteristic of resilience involves both aspects. To be able to anticipate and recognize emerging threats requires information flowing within the HRO.

The characteristics of sensitivity to operations and deference to expertise are critical to interpreting incoming information to recognize new threats. Woods provided examples of organizations that have failed because of a lack of resilience—otherwise known as brittleness Woods, Some factors that can increase brittleness of a system include intense short-term efficiency and productivity pressure. Increasingly autonomous machines also tend to be brittle unless the system design provides mechanisms that make the machine a team player with other groups, roles, and people.

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When the joint system of people and automated machines is poorly designed, people become a generic source of adaptive capacity to make up for the brittleness because they must develop work-arounds that stretch the ability of the system to handle variations to plans and surprise events. Unlike automated systems, people are able to adapt to handle conditions outside their standard model Woods and Hollnagel, Woods pointed out an irony about organizations that seek ultrahigh reliability even though employees perform difficult and risky tasks.

HROs need to encourage sharing of information about weaknesses and problems in the system, but exposing and sharing information about weaknesses is sometimes interpreted as indicating the organization is not performing well. To encourage information sharing, HROs should resist blaming individuals as the source of the exposed weaknesses. Information about weaknesses is essential to diagnose system issues that the organization needs to learn about and change before the weaknesses grow and combine to create an accident or adverse event Woods et al.

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The basic characteristics of HROs reveal that weaknesses are not simply a problem residing in individual people or specific human groups; rather the difficulties are symptoms of complexity that resides in what the organization does, the variations around the situations it confronts, and the environment that surrounds it. Complex systems are networks of highly interdependent nodes, roles, groups, and activities; the performance. World events can challenge these networks and produce cascades of effects that can overwhelm the organization.

Even more difficult is that our understanding of the network is always going to be incomplete because the interde-pendencies change structurally and dynamically Hollnagel et al. Woods used the example of effects from extreme weather when recent events in one part of the world cascaded in unpredictable ways across multiple industries and organizations around the world. As people have begun to recognize the importance of resilience in systems, Woods indicated that there has been a progression of concepts.

Historically, resilience was approached as the idea of rebound and recovery in the aftermath of a traumatic event. Others focused on expanding the range of challenge events and disruptions a system could handle robustness. The concept progressed to focus on the factors that allow a system to continue to operate or to degrade gracefully when difficulties surge and cascade, challenging the normal responses of that system.

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Recently, there have been advances in fundamental theories about complex adaptive systems that capture the basic properties that 1 allow systems to adapt to surprising events and 2 allow systems to better manage basic trade-offs from competing goals. Woods discussed three basic patterns of how complex systems break down in the face of challenges and how these patterns apply across multiple scales Hollnagel et al. In other words, these patterns can be seen at the level of an individual, team, organization, or industry. The three patterns are:. Woods used results from a study on urban firefighters to demonstrate these three forms of adaptive breakdown.


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Urban firefighting includes people in multiple roles at different echelons, trying to balance multiple goals and sharing responsibility for outcomes. Interdependencies stand out between different roles, different teams, and different echelons, and these all depend on how the demands of the situation change and evolve.

He used an example from incident command that illustrated the risk of falling into the trap of decompensation. Commanders noted that if they waited to call in extra resources until the need was definitive, it was too late to avoid breakdown.

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They had to anticipate the need before they had run out of capability to respond to events even though sometimes the pace of events would recede and new resources might not be needed. Incident commanders needed to be able to deploy resources to keep up with the current events while maintaining the ability to respond to and keep pace with possible future events.

This ability to anticipate and respond to the next challenge event is called the margin of maneuver. Margin of maneuver is a simple, central parameter that can be defined and controlled across scales and types of organizations. Do you have sufficient margin to maneuver to handle future events? If you do not or cannot maintain that extra margin, the system in question will be too brittle.

However, if you maintain lots of extra margin, you are going to be too inefficient, and the extra resources will dwindle away. In advance of crises it has proven quite difficult to discriminate between sources of resilience that sustain margin of maneuver and true inefficiencies. Woods used other results from studies of critical incidents in fire-fighting to illustrate the breakdown pattern of working at cross-purposes.

This happened when the actions of one group inadvertently increased the threats to another group. As firefighters advance they should always maintain a line of retreat or identify a safe haven should a threat occur. In other words, they act to have sufficient margin to maneuver to protect themselves should dangers increase suddenly. When the fire situation deteriorated suddenly, the planned line of retreat was not open to the firefighters, increasing their risk of injury or death. Woods noted how concepts about resilience, such as the three patterns of breakdown and the general parameter of margin of maneuver, apply to systems across scales ranging from human physiology all the way to large organizations such as DHS.

Units, organizations, and people create, sustain, and defend their margin to maneuver to meet their responsibilities in the expectation that surprises can and will occur. If a role, group, or unit must struggle intensely to maintain their margin of maneuver, it has a high risk of experiencing decompensation failures.

If a unit regularly but inadvertently squeezes another unit to sustain or defend its appropriate margin, these units are at high risk for working at cross-purposes. If units do not study and share information about how the organization brings extra adaptive capacity to bear beyond standard procedures and plans, they will be overconfident and miscalibrated, and, as a result, will suffer from high risk of getting stuck in an outdated model of the world. Woods also noted how people bring special properties to the operation and regularities of complex adaptive systems. People can reflect on, model, and learn about the systems in which they operate or are stakeholders.

When individuals, groups, or units are constantly struggling to sustain some margin of maneuver as they carry out tasks so as to forestall possible failures, they are under a form of stress. Because of the reflective capability of people, their recognition that events regularly risk loss of margin of maneuver is also a form of stress.

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When systems operate in ways that have a high risk of falling into the three patterns of adaptive breakdown, challenge events are experienced as stress. The basic properties of HROs, such as deference to expertise, reluctance to simplify, and sensitivity to operations, are correlates of processes in organizations that can obtain information about weaknesses, such as the risk of decompensation, and that stimulate learning about ways to avoid such traps as working at cross-purposes. But systems that violate the basic properties of HROs appear to operate with higher risk of falling into one or another of the three basic adaptive traps.

And people working in such systems will experience cases of near loss of margin of maneuver as stressful events as they are aware of how precarious these situations can be, even if other levels or parts of the organization continue unaware that events with near loss of margin of maneuver are occurring Woods and Wreathall, As a result of the results briefly noted above, Woods identified workforce resilience as one aspect of how DHS is a complex system and how DHS is an organization that manages a set of complex systems. He suggested that the work on complex adaptive systems, including modeling tools such as multi-agent simulations and measures of brittleness, has progressed to the point that it can provide a framework for DHS.

This framework could unify a diverse set of issues needed to meet the mission, such as human capital and workforce stress. It can also include other critical issues involving collaboration across units, anomaly recognition, and crisis response.