Organizational Consulting

 

 

As you may know by now, there has been a paradigmatic shift in identifying the causal factors that lead to aircraft accidents. Initially, accidents were primarily attributed to proximal factors (i.e., pilot error), while today, many other upstream, or distal, factors are being identified (i.e., latent organizational threats and errors that may lie dormant in the system for months or even years).

Systemically, it was much easier to attribute an accident to a single cause; pilot error. The train of thought was that pilots made errors solely of their own volition and that there were few, if any, organizational precursors leading to the terminal error. Thus, if the pilot were still alive, the way to ameliorate the problem was with sanctions (such as license suspension or revocation and/or job termination). For lesser infractions, remedial training was another option. Unfortunately, these “fixes” were not preventing the same type of accidents from happening again. A deeper understanding of accident causation was in order.

About 30 years ago, accident investigators began to shift their single point error paradigm to a more robust model of precursor identification (or, with credit to James Reason—the metaphorical Swiss cheese model). The “organizational accident” was born; an accident that has multiple upstream failures that may go as far back as bad decisions made in the board room years earlier. And, in many cases, the Regulator, rather being part of the solution, can actually be part of the problem. Arguably, the most well-known accident of this type was Air Ontario Flight 1363 that crashed in Dryden, Ontario, Canada, in 1989. Although the crash was caused by pilot error (the Captain took off with ice and snow on the wings and crashed shortly after takeoff), multiple failures were identified in the system, including significant organizational errors and inadequate oversight by the Regulator (Transport Canada). Unfortunately, these organizational failures (also known as latent threats and errors) were only identified after the accident occurred. This accident was the quintessential failure of an entire organization, up to, and including, the Regulator. This wasn’t just pilot error. This was an organizational accident.

Fast forward to today. Almost all accidents are caused by some kind of failures in the organization. It should be stated that this does not absolve pilots of blame; it just means that pilots may be the “trigger pullers” of accidents that have been set in motion by organizational failures years earlier. You can think of it as an extended accident chain.

Although today we have a much better understanding of how and why organizational accidents occur, they still continue to occur. Part of the problem is that the very people that are setting the latent organizational threats and errors in motion are more focused on the bottom line than safety. It’s called the Production/Protection scale; too much production (income) and too little protection (safety) can lead to a loss. Upper management sometimes balances the scale disproportionately to the production side thus creating a breeding ground for latent organizational threats. Accordingly, the majority of accidents today are still attributable to unmitigated organizational factors.

What can be done? There is no magic bullet or a simple solution. One major obstacle is that an aviation organization may have a problem seeing the forest through the trees. It’s a case of lack of objectivity in realizing an organization’s shortfalls. After all, latent threats lie hidden in the system and they are typically not visible until after an accident occurs. An organization that can identify latent threats before an accident happens is truly a high-reliability organization. A Safety Management System (SMS) will help, but only to the extent that upper-management buys-in and supports it. Unfortunately, many aviation organizations that claim to have a functional SMS have nothing more than a manual collecting dust on a shelf. An additional challenge is that management may still have a reactive, rather than proactive, approach to safety. I can list many more impediments to achieving a high-reliability organization here, but I think you get the point. The goal is to identify the latent organizational threats and errors before they penetrate all the holes in the Swiss cheese slices and become an accident. It can be done, but the organization needs to take the first step by standing back and seeing the forest through the trees, and that may need to be done with an objective set of eyes.

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What Is A High-Reliability Organization?

A high-reliability organization (HRO) is an organization that has succeeded in avoiding catastrophes in an environment where normal accidents can be expected due to risk factors and complexity. Important case studies in HRO research include both studies of disasters (e.g., Three Mile Island nuclear incident, the Challenger explosion and Columbia explosion, the Bhopal chemical leak, the Tenerife air crash, the Mann Gulch forest fire, the Black Hawk friendly fire incident in Iraq) and HROs like the air traffic control system, naval aircraft carriers, and nuclear power operations.

There are five characteristics of a High-Reliability Organization:

- Preoccupation with failure

- Reluctance to simplify interpretations

- Sensitivity to operations

- Commitment to resilience

- Deference to expertise

 

Organizational Consulting

Safety Culture

When it comes to organizational consulting, we take a top-down approach. Many companies claim that safety starts at the top, but in reality, this isn't always the case. In order for safety to start at the top, an organization must have a generative (healthy) safety culture. Without a good safety culture, a company will find it difficult, if not impossible, to make safety one of the highest priorities throughout the organizational hierarchy. A healthy safety culture is also a pre-requisite for implementing a functional Safety Management System (SMS). Therefore, our approach begins at the highest levels of management and continues down to the line personnel in a pragmatic, logical fashion.

 

Training And Development

Training & Development

We can assist in the development, deployment and assessment of your safety training needs in a wide variety of areas. We have the experience and know-how to develop outstanding training events; in fact, we have developed training programs and courses for universities, aircraft manufacturers, MRO's, airlines and more. Our core training and development specialties are, but not limited to, Safety Management Systems (SMS), Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA), Human Factors (HF), Crew Resource Management (CRM), Train-The-Trainer, and Evidence-Based Training.

 

Human Factors And Ergonomics

Human Centered Design

Human Factors and Ergonomics (commonly referred to as HF&E), also known as comfort design, functional design, and systems, is the practice of designing products, systems, or processes to take proper account of the interaction between them and the people who use them. Human Factors and Ergonomics is concerned with the "fit" between the user, equipment, and their environments. It takes account of the user's capabilities and limitations in seeking to ensure that tasks, functions, information, and the environment suit each user.

 

Organization Development

Organization Develoopment

Organization Development (OD) is the study of successful organizational change and performance. OD focuses on aligning organizations with their rapidly changing and complex environments through organizational learning, knowledge management, and transformation of organizational norms and values.

Key concepts of OD theory include: organizational climate (the mood or unique “personality” of an organization, which includes attitudes and beliefs that influence members’ collective behavior), organizational culture (the deeply-seated norms, values, and behaviors that members share) and organizational strategies (how an organization identifies problems, plans action, negotiates change, and evaluates progress). OD typically begins with measures of the organization's culture. We can develop and administer those measures, with, for instance, surveys, such as our proprietary Safety Culture Assessment Tool (SCAT).

 

What Is Industrial And Organizational Psychology?

I/O Psychology

Industrial and organizational psychology (I/O psychology), also known as occupational psychology, organizational psychology, and work and organizational psychology, is an applied discipline within psychology.

I/O psychology is the science of human behavior relating to work, and applies psychological theories and principles to organizations and individuals in their places of work, as well as the individual's work-life more generally. I/O psychologists are trained in the scientist–practitioner model. I/O psychologists contribute to an organization's success by improving the performance, motivation, job satisfaction, and occupational safety and health, as well as the overall health and well-being of its employees.

An I/O psychologist conducts research on employee behaviors and attitudes, and how these can be improved through hiring practices, training programs, feedback, and management systems.

 

Research Methods

I/O psychologists are trained in the scientist–practitioner model. I/O psychologists rely on a variety of methods to conduct organizational research. Study designs employed by I/O psychologists include surveys, experiments, quasi-experiments, and observational studies. I/O psychologists rely on diverse data sources including human judgments, historical databases, objective measures of work performance (e.g., sales volume), and questionnaires and surveys.

I/O researchers employ quantitative statistical methods. Quantitative methods used in I/O psychology include correlation, multiple regression, and analysis of variance. More advanced statistical methods employed in I/O research include logistic regression, structural equation modeling, and hierarchical linear modeling (HLM; also known as multilevel modeling). I/O research has also employed meta-analysis. I/O psychologists also employ psychometric methods including methods associated with classical test theory, generalizability theory, and item response theory (IRT).

I/O psychologists also employ qualitative methods, which largely involve focus groups, interviews, and case studies. I/O research on organizational culture research has employed ethnographic techniques and participant observation.

 

As I/O Psychologists, We Can Assist Your Organization With-

  • Job Analysis
  • Personnel Recruitment and Selection
  • Individual Assessment
  • Psychometrics
  • Tests and Measures
  • Occupational Health and Well-Being
  • Workplace Aggression and Violence
  • Remuneration and Compensation
  • Training Development and Evaluation
  • Train-The-Trainer
  • Motivation in the Workplace
  • Occupational Stress
  • Occupational Safety
  • Organizational Culture
  • Safety Culture
  • Group Behavior
  • Team Effectiveness
  • Team Composition
  • Task Design
  • Organizational Resources
  • Team Rewards
  • Team Goals
  • Job Satisfaction and Commitment
  • Productive Behavior
  • Job Performance
  • Organizational Citizenship Behavior
  • Innovation
  • Counterproductive Work Behavior
  • Leadership
  • Leader-Focused Approaches
  • Contingency-Focused Approaches
  • Follower-Focused Approaches
  • Organizational Development
  • Ethics

 

 

A pathogenic (poor) safety culture can cause catastrophic accidents.

Accidents such as these...

 


NASA Challenger Explosion

 


Chalks Ocean Airways Flight 101 Crash

 

TACG can, proactively and independently, assist your aviation organization in its pursuit of a generative (positive) safety culture!

 

 

 

Did you know that TACG provides full-scale organizational consulting?


Our Industrial/Organizational Psychologists are ready to assist!

We Have The Training And Experience To Make The Difference!

The Aviation Consulting Group provides organizational consulting for aviation operators on a worldwide basis. Our Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychologist consultants not only hold Ph.Ds in their respective fields but also have practical experience in flight operations in the real world. This combination is a rare find and we are confident you will be pleased with our capabilities and YOUR results.

Meet Our Organizational Psychologists

Dr.Bob Baron - TACG President

Dr. Robert Baron, Ph.D

Total Years of Experience: 29

  • Ph.D- Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • MS- Aeronautical Science (dual specializations in Aviation/Aerospace Safety Systems and Human Factors in Aviation Systems)
  • BS- Professional Aeronautics (Minor in Aviation Safety)
  • Airline Transport Pilot License (Rated on LR-JET, CE-500, FE-TURBOJET)

Dr. Baron performs extensive work in his core specializations of Human Factors (HF), Safety Management Systems (SMS), Crew Resource Management (CRM), Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA), and organizational psychology. He consults with, and provides training to, hundreds of aviation organizations on a worldwide basis. Projects range from short workshops all the way up to, and including, full safety program implementation at some of the largest airlines and aircraft manufacturers in the world. He also works with various civil aviation authorities and accident investigation bureaus to improve safety at the very highest levels of the aviation system.

Dr. Baron has, and continues to be, published in various hard copy and electronic formats, including contributions to the Flight Safety Foundation’s publication Aero Safety World. Dr. Baron's extensive list of publications can be viewed by clicking here. Dr. Baron also presents at conferences and symposia on a regular basis, addressing various topics related to Safety Culture and Human Factors. Dr. Baron's full bio can be viewed here.

 

Dr. Preven Naidoo

Dr. Preven Naidoo, Ph.D

Total Years of Experience: 18

  • Ph.D- Organizational Behavior
  • MPhil (Human Resource Management)
  • BCom. Honors (Business Management)
  • BCom (Aviation Management)
  • Airline Transport Pilot License (Rated on Airbus A340/A330/A320)

Dr. Naidoo is a recognized leader in the fields of Crew Resource Management (CRM), Human Factors (HF), Safety Management Systems (SMS), Human Factors Design, Advanced Aircraft Training, Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA), aviation safety, organizational behavior, and quality improvement.

Dr. Naidoo has been involved as the lead project manager at South African Airways for their Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA program) in 2010. This included initial set up, design and implementation. He has also been involved in LOSA projects with two other large international carriers.

From 2010 – present, Dr. Naidoo has been involved in various aviation human factors research projects and worked with experts from the University of Pretoria, University of South Australia, and the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. Projects included an analysis of human factor automation issues in both general aviation and civil airliners.

Dr. Naidoo is presently an airline pilot (instructor) on the Airbus A340/A330 with approximately 11000 hours experience, and the Human Factors Manager at South African Airways.

Dr. Naidoo publishes extensively on human factors in aviation, automation issues, and flight training, to improve flight safety, and embedding human factors engineering in the aviation system. He authored the book, "Airline Pilots’ Perceptions of Advanced Flight Deck Automation."

 

Papers and Publications

 

P. Naidoo, Pieter Schaap & Leopold P. Vermeulen (2014): The Development of a Measure to Assess Perceptions of the Advanced Aircraft Training Climate. The International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 24:3, 228-­‐245, DOI: 10.1080/10508414.2014.918441{ DoE (ISSN_Nr 1050-­‐8414)(E-­‐ ISSN_Nr 1532-­‐7108). Available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10508414.2014.918441.

 

Naidoo, P. (2010). Airline Pilots’ Perceptions of Advanced Flight Deck Automation. Saarbrücken, Germany: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing.

 

Naidoo, Preven & Vermeulen, Leopold (2014): Validation of the Automation Attitude Questionnaire for airline pilots. Ergonomics SA: Journal of the Ergonomics Society of South Africa, 26:1, 44-­‐63.  {DoE (ISSN_Nr 1010-­‐2728)}. Available at http://reference.sabinet.co.za/sa_epublication/ergosa.

 

Alexandra Kristovics, Jim Mitchell, Ronald W. Bishop, Preven Naidoo and Leopold P. Vermeulen (2014): Automation in light aircraft: a cross-­‐national analysis. In D. Bridges; J. Neal-­‐Smith & A.J. Miles (Eds.), Absent Aviators  Gender Issues in Aviation (pp. 211-­‐238), Ashgate Publishing Limited. Farnham. (Book pp369.)

 

Mitchell, Jim; Vermeulen, Leopold Petrus; Naidoo, Prevendren (2009). Flying Glass: A Qualitative Analysis of Pilot Perceptions of Automated Flight-­‐Decks After 20 Years. FAA International Journal of Applied Aviation Studies, 9(4). 13-­‐28. Available at http://repository.up.ac.za/handle/2263/14744.

 

Naidoo, P. (2015). Exploring the Mathematical Predictability of the Advanced Aircraft Training Climate. Paper presented at the International Society for Aviation Psychology, Dayton, Ohio.

 

 

 

For additional information, or to receive a formal quote on our organizational consulting services