Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thinking Like a Mariner - Managing the Unexpected

Managing the Unexpected by Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe is about so called High Reliability Organization..  I mentioned the book when I first purchased it here -US Airway Flight 1549 and High Reliability Organizations I think the book is worth reading and keeping for reference.  It was tough sledding at times, not because the ideas are complex but because  it didn't link the examples to the theory very well.

The book  didn't really change the way I think about ship operations, I think ship's masters generally  already think this way.  It did sharpen my understanding and learning the vocabulary has made it easier to communicate these ideas to other people.

There is a professional written review here.

The five key points are:

  • Preoccupation with failure
  • Reluctance to simplify interpretations
  • Sensitivity to operations
  • Commitment to resilience
  • Deference to expertise

A problem with books about this subject is the jargon. This NASA pdf file Normal Accident Theory has  a short example  taken from  everyday life which explains terms like "tightly coupled" and "rigidly ordered processes". It uses the example of a person late for an important interview because of a combination of unexpected but normal events such as a broken coffee pot and a bus strike. The bus strike leads to a shortage of cabs which is an example of events that are coupled together in a way that was not foreseen.

I recommend this book for the mariner's bookshelf. Generally, reading and studying HRO and normal accident theory literature will help you think like a mariner.


My post Normal Accidents here.

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