Transforming industry perceptions: HOP VS BBS

Transforming industry perceptions: HOP VS BBS

Wow!!  There are times when you begin researching one topic and come away with a paper, a sentence, or thought process that explains all the different ideas you have been thinking about and trying to combine on your own into one beautiful package.  That is how I felt when I read these few sentences written by Dr. Judy Agnew from Aubrey Daniels.  Please take a moment to read them below and let’s talk about the combination of HOP and behavior-based perspectives.

“Human error is behavior. Human Performance is behavior.  There are no quick fixes. What we do have is the science of behavior and it provides us with a framework to understand human performance.”  

To begin with HOP is defined as Human and Organizational Performance.  One of the most well-rounded definitions with the most constructive explanation in my opinion is written by Andrea Baker from Safety Differently.  HOP means “Humans fail (make errors and break rules) with a known frequency that is affected by known influencing factors.  If we take those data inputs as a given, we design better systems – including better rules, and better methods of discipline.”  HOP focuses on expecting failures, designing systems that allow for graceful failures, and modifying the entire organizational belief system to improve both human and organizational performance.   

Behavioral based safety is defined as “the application of the science of behavior change to real world safety problems”.  It stays focused on the behavior within the environment and changing the behavior through environmental changes.

After you read through all the definitions don’t both outlooks seem to be geared towards the same end goal while creating change both within human expectations and organizational expectations? 

If it all works why are we talking about it? What is the point of this blog?  The point is to adjust perceptions that are becoming inherently biased within the safety industry.  Look at the industry perceptions listed below:

1)     HOP – The industry perception is that HOP is only based on organizational errors and not human errors.

2)     BBS – The industry perception is that BBS is only based on human errors and not system or organizational errors.

How odd is it that two safety development processes that both involve humans, system processes, and organizations seem to be perceived as completely opposite of each other?  Yet when they are truly defined they are almost completely aligned with each other to achieve the same end goal. 

Do you see why I was so moved by the statement from Judy Agnew.  Both systems can and should be linked together to work within an organization.  BBS does not mean everyone should get in trouble all the time it means we should use the science to build the framework to understand the performance to apply those methods to organizational transformation.  “Human error is behavior. Human Performance is behavior.  There are no quick fixes. What we do have is the science of behavior and it provides us with a framework to understand human performance.”  

How can we adjust perceptions?  In these current times, it seems the industry is creating Matrix style biases.  Some say one thought process is the red pill and the other one is the blue pill.  Which one will you choose as a company, as a manger, as an organization?  I believe we need to mix them up and use them together!  Here we come purple pill! 

It is our responsibility as safety professionals to work on transforming the perceptions within the industry.  We need to vocalize the perceptions that should be changed, continuously advocate for change, implement topics that work together from both processes and share our stories.  Using platforms such as blogs, podcasts, company newsletters, and regular conversations with colleagues and respected individuals through our industry will allow us to adjust the definitions of these perspectives and create an even stronger safety industry! 

Remember perception is always based on personal experience.  If the only personal experience someone has is listening to how these concepts work against each other they will never understand that they can work together. Your voice always counts.

Happy Changing, Happy Voicing, Happy Purple Pilling!