As teams plan and coordinate work, some do so better than others when ensuring a group process that is free from error. Generally, the saying ‘two brains are better than one’ is very true, but only if a focus on inoculating against social-brain hazards is installed within the work system. Examples include avoiding groupthink and other related error traps that lead to flawed planning, increased risk, or catastrophe.

Many work-related critical errors stem from the natural functioning of the brain, including when several team members come together to communicate about the work but succumb to social norms embedded in our habitual interactions with peers. It is important for organizations to apply enhanced communication processes to detect latent conditions to ensure operations are planned safely, anomalies are detected through focused attention and discussion, and so that dissenting opinions are raised despite human biology that prompts us all to remain quiet and not disrupt the status quo, or question well regarded others.

Companies around the world are improving the way important communications occur to ensure the most critical tasks execute as planned and operations are kept in control. The discipline of Human Performance Improvement has allowed organizations to now take better control of the human factor with a focus on communication, job task design enhancement, and employee education on error prevention. Science based interventions that harness the power of the social brain and improve decision quality and foster situational awareness, yield powerful results that allow employees to detect weak signals amongst equipment but also the team, and other latent error conditions that are aligning to create a brewing storm leading to upset operations, injuries, or catastrophe. We know a lot about how human beings naturally interact at work, so keeping the helpful portion of this in place and addressing natural limitations built within our neuroscience are the key to sustainably safe operations respectful of the people who run them. Results include:

  • Capacity-Yield/On time performance improvements of 27% to 65%

  • Rework/waste reductions of 27% to 45%

  • Absenteeism reductions of 15% to 37%

  • Talent retention improvement of 21% to 60%

  • Productivity increases of 18% to 47%

  • Recordable injury reductions of 25% to 95%

As our systems and work design continues to improve, the greater the impetus to apply human performance science to address the human side of how work really gets done. Most interventions focus on awareness training, and presentation of academic models to people who execute the work. A better approach harnesses the science but integrates it into the natural way work happens. Knowing how people tick, paired with practical tweaks to systems makes all the difference.

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