Why Trend?

In this day in age, we are inundated with data. The problem is that data is sometimes necessary.


In this day in age, we are inundated with data.  From Fantasy Football to the barrage of the 24/7 news cycle, we can feel overwhelmed.

The problem is that this data is sometimes necessary.  Take Human Performance – How are we supposed to develop a plan to improve our Organization’s performance if we don’t know where our weaknesses lie?  In a prior position, I had the task of helping our employees roll out our first Human Performance Improvement (HPI) program.  It was also my first HPI program.

But we didn’t jump in with both feet.  We let people do their jobs, and then we sat back and watched.  When an issue would arise, we would perform a Cause Analysis (In a subsequent post, I’ll explain why I don’t typically use the term “Root Cause”).  Any issues at the time would be fixed, but we would save and analyze the data.  Over the course of two years, we began to see trends that would help guide and shape what would become our Human Performance program.

Creating a bunch of rules without reason or direction won’t solve your problems.  Rules and procedures must be created with purpose.  We have this problem, and we will deploy the following procedures to address it.

One of the issues we had was mis-operations of electrical equipment due to misuse of test switches.  Test switches are isolation devices typically used in a substation environment.  Employees were closing the wrong switches by mistake while testing equipment.  I even heard the phrase “I knew I was on the wrong switch, but couldn’t stop in time.”  And it wasn’t just one person, so I knew it passed the Substitution Test (I’ll explain this in a subsequent post).  We had an Organizational problem, and we need a tool that would address it.

One Tool fixed this issue.  We had to resolve the disconnect that was occurring between the speed at which people were moving and the rate at which their brains were processing the movement (and everything else going on – Situational Awareness).  We included “Touch-STAR (Stop, Think, Act, Review)” in our Human Performance Toolbox.  By having employees touch the device they wanted to operate, but then Stop prior to taking an action, we gave them an opportunity to catch themselves before escalating a mistake.  Note that I didn’t say stop making mistakes.  This HP Tool will not prevent someone from inadvertently touching the wrong piece of equipment.  We’re Human, and we will make mistakes.  Human Performance Tools allow us some breathing room and time to recognize that we made a mistake.  This gives us a chance to recognize and correct the mistake before it becomes something bigger.

For more information on trending or to see how we can help, please contact us.

HP Tools Primer

If you ask most people who are new to the field of Human Performance Improvement, most of them want to jump straight to the tools.

If you ask most people who are new to the field of Human Performance Improvement, most of them want to jump straight to the tools. What they don’t realize is this will often derail a Human Performance program before it gets off the ground.  There are a couple of reasons why this is.

First, a lot of new HP Practitioners think Human Performance Improvement is just about the Tools. By this, we mean that the Tools are sometimes viewed as a measuring stick to which all employees must work, similar to being tardy.  When this occurs, we tend to conclude a “Root Cause Analysis” once we find out which Tool was misapplied or not used and by which employee.  We then censure said employee and re-train the employee on the proper use of the Tool.  We can go home at night thinking we did a good job.

Secondly, and this is a symptom of the first problem, employees begin to see the Tools as another attempt by Management to place blame for failures. The Tools begin to be resented by employees, become seen as a waste of time, and lose their effectiveness as the reasons for undertaking an HP Program begin to become distant memories.  This is difficult to recover from.

One thing we must all remember is that Human Performance is not just about the Tools, and the Tools do not define Human Performance. The Tools are a way to for us to bring attention and focus to a task, and they should not be applied in a way that distracts or wastes time.  The Tools are just that – Tools used to complete a job or task.

We are currently working on a complete series on the common Human Performance Tools – What they are, how they work, and when they should be applied. However, a solid foundation needs to be laid prior to their application if an HP program is to be successful.

To request more information on the HP Tools or to see how we can help, please contact us.

Why Behaviors Matter

Human Performance is the outcome of two inputs: Behaviors and Results.

Human Performance is the outcome of two inputs: Behaviors and Results.

HP = Behaviors + Results

Results are easy. If an action occurs, what happens?  Results are easy to identify, easy to trend, and tend to drive Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for many companies.  Results are what we refer to as lagging indicators.  Results are important, and this post is not to diminish them.  However, results are not the whole story.

What about the behavior side? Believe it or not, behaviors are at least, if not more valuable, that the results we see.  Behaviors give you a glimpse into the mind of the person and what may be going through their head as they perform a task.  Are they overly focused on a task and possibly missing a key piece of information?  Do they seem overconfident, or are they in total control of the situation.  This can only be determined by an analysis of their behaviors exhibited during a task.

Behaviors also give insight into items “below the water-line.” These are leading indicators – things such as near-misses.  Unlike results, the items below the water line are subtle.  Left unchecked, these items will eventually turn into tomorrow’s incident.


Finally, behaviors are one of the most powerful ways to understand the culture of an organization.  Does an organization condone drifting from documented standards and procedures?  Is stopping a job due to a safety concern frowned upon?  Or are managers quick to pass blame onto employees for making a mistake?

Behaviors are that important.

For more information on learning to monitor behavior or to see how we can help, please contact us.