What does a system look like that is designed around Resilience Engineering? A resilient system is one that it designed and staffed with people that do 4 basic things, working in sync; anticipate, monitor, respond, and learn. It might be better to provide an illustration to explain.
Imagine you just finished a very intense, advanced driver training class. During your class you had intense classroom exercises in addition to weeks of hands on driving classes to teach you every way possible to handle a car. When you left the class, you could drive a car with the best in the country and had the intellect to recognize how to approach any driving situation, from rain and snow to high speed maneuvers.
After taking your class, you decide to equip yourself with the best tool for the job and buy a new car with the best safety features available on the market. You decide to buy a car that fits your newly learned driver skills. The car you choose has safety features designed to enhance the human and improve driver safety, driver response and equip the driver to act and react utilizing the features of the car to protect the human from the weaknesses in the human design. You choose a car with features such as advanced braking, anti-lock brakes, heads up display, headlights that turn with the road, hands free radio and cell phone features, lane departure alarms, back up cameras and parallel park assist.
Now that you have your training and equipment selected you hit the road on a two-lane road at night. While you are driving you encounter a car in front of you that is weaving between the lines. The car brakes suddenly which engages your brake assist system. There are many things you can anticipate about this situation. The driver in front of you could be a drunk driver, distracted or having a medical condition. However, you must assume the worst-case scenario. How do you react? The options at your disposal you recall from your driver training all of which have a level of risk associated with them. You can stop, choose another route, call 911 or even pass the driver. Based on your training you decide to choose and alternate route and call 911 just in case using your hands-free cell phone in the car to hopefully prevent an auto accident. You depart from your route onto an alternate road and arrive at your destination safely. The training you received working in conjunction with the systems in the car kept you safe.
The management system, above all this, that allowed you to have the training and car was the support from your wife and family to take on the financial risk of owning the more expensive car with all the safety features to protect you and your family in the event of an incident despite cheaper options available.
Now design a business system with these features in mind and you have a management system based on resilience engineering. A system that gives the people the tools and support to anticipate risks, a methodology to monitor the plan for deviation, a plan to respond if deviation occurs and a system to capture and incorporate learning to prevent or avoid the same risks in the future. A business system like this is deliberately designed and managed and when the system is functioning properly safety, quality and efficiency improves.
Are you applying Resilience Engineering Practices in your organization?