Thursday, November 1, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

In this post we call attention to a recent article from The Wall Street Journal* that highlights an aspect of safety culture “learning” that may not be appreciated with approaches currently in vogue in the nuclear industry.  The gist of the article is that, just as practice is useful in mastering complex, physically challenging activities, it may also have value in honing the skills inherent in complex socio-technical issues.

“Research has established that fast, simple feedback is almost always more effective at shaping behavior than is a more comprehensive response well after the fact. Better to whisper "Please use a more formal tone with clients, Steven" right away than to lecture Steven at length on the wherefores and whys the next morning.”

Our sense is current efforts to instill safety culture norms and values tend toward after-the-fact lectures and “death by PowerPoint” approaches.  As the article correctly points out, it is “shaping behavior” that should be the goal and is something that benefits from feedback, and “An explicit request can normalize the idea of ‘using’ rather than passively "taking" feedback.”

It’s not a long article so we hope readers will just go ahead and click on the link below.

*  Lemov, D., “Practice Makes Perfect—And Not Just for Jocks and Musicians,” Wall Street Journal online (Oct. 26, 2012).

1 comment:

  1. This conclusion aligns with the HRO Research (e.g. with Aircraft Carrier Flight Operations) where a sustained moderate tempo of all-weather flight operations provides the rehearsal, experience with variability and subsequently best achievable resilience when Operations must be taken to Mission Tempo.

    It is also reinforced by Gary Klein's work on Recognition Primed Decision-Making - such as in Urban Fire Captains and Smoke Jumper Teams. The idea is not to achieve automaton status as a performer, but rather to put as much of the complexifying detail at the ready so that cognitive attention can be applied to sense-making about "what's different."

    One reason to be uneasy with the constant harping on procedure non-compliance that one reads in NRC Inspection Reports is the subtle way this ROP boiler plate language disses the strength of rehearsal, especially in teams.

    There is a balance to be crafted between rehearsed action and conformance with procedures, but in the most serious situations encountered with Complex High-Consequence Circumstances operating teams must have developed some sense of style if they are to respond resiliently.

    On the other hand: "—Mr. Lemov is a managing director at Uncommon Schools and the co-author of the new book 'Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better'"

    42 Rules? I hope that's a joke!


Thanks for your comment. We read them all. We would like to display them under their respective posts on our main page but that is not how Blogger works.