We are interested in the basic question: why are some organisations more successful than others in managing unexpected situations? Why is the safety record of some organisations exceptionally good given the hazardous environment they work in? Why do some organisations out perform others?   

High Reliability Organisations (HRO) and High Performance Organisations (HPO) share features that account for impressive reliability performances related to production, safety or other critical outputs. These records are sometimes surprising given the considerable risks and challenges these organisations face. We would expect more failure than is the case and this makes it interesting to look for clues why these organisations are so successful. 

Over the past couple of years, a lot of research has been conducted into typical features and characteristics of both reliability-seeking and performance. This research has shown that within these types of organisations, employees and managers are capable of maintaining a constant level of focus and alertness. This ability is necessary to keep noticing new points of friction or developments sooner, to adjust old routines and arrangements, to learn new lessons and to be willing to adjust your methods.

Being focused and alert, or mindfulness, means wanting to be aware of old routines, set rituals, thoughtless compromises, bureaucratic rules, ‘every-man-for-himself’ behavior, making yourself look positive at other people’s expense, signs of lack of motivation, and so on. It also means having an attitude of ‘wanting to do something about it’, ‘organising in the here and now with complete awareness’ and with that, ‘continuing to act consciously, being aware, being vigilant and staying pro-active.’ Mindfulness is a requirement in terms of the ability to anticipate ‘the unexpected’ at an earlier stage and to attain better management skills .