Risk aversion and other obstacles to mission success a presentation to spin march 2 2007
Sponsored Links
This presentation is the property of its rightful owner.
1 / 23

Risk Aversion and Other Obstacles to Mission Success A presentation to SPIN March 2, 2007 PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on
  • Presentation posted in: General

Risk Aversion and Other Obstacles to Mission Success A presentation to SPIN March 2, 2007. Scott Jackson [email protected] – (949) 854-0519. Systems Architecture and Engineering Program: A Node of the Resilience Engineering Network.

Download Presentation

Risk Aversion and Other Obstacles to Mission Success A presentation to SPIN March 2, 2007

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript

Risk Aversion and Other Obstacles to Mission SuccessA presentation to SPINMarch 2, 2007

Scott Jackson

[email protected] – (949) 854-0519

  • Systems Architecture and Engineering Program:

  • A Node of the Resilience Engineering Network

This presentation is based in part on a paper titled “The Science of Organizational Psychology Applied to Mission Assurance” presented to the Conference on Systems Engineering Research, Los Angeles, 7-8, April 2006. Co-authors were Katherine Erlick, PhD, and Joann Gutierrez both of whom have degrees in organizational psychology.


System Resilience – the ability of organizational, hardware and software systems to mitigate the severity and likelihood of failures or losses, to adapt to changing conditions, and to respond appropriately after the fact.

Culture is a key element in System Resilience

Thesis: The traditional methods of executive mandate and extensive training are not sufficient to achieve a System Resilience culture. The science of organizational psychology promises to show us a better way.

Common paradigms, especially with respect to risk, can be obstacles to a System Resilience

System Resilience, Culture and Paradigms

The System Resilience Architecture

Taking risk seriously is here

Tools and processes, e.g., risk, are here

Root Causes

Lack of Rigorous System Safety

Lack of Information Management


Lack of Risk Management

Regulatory Faults

Lack of Review and Oversight

Incomplete Verification

Conflicting Priorities

Poor Schedule Management

Lack of Expertise

Organizational Barriers


Cost Management

Incomplete Requirements

Faulty Decision Making


Common Root Causes Suggest Key Capabilities


Cultural Initiatives

System Resilience Oversight

System Resilience Infrastructure

Risk Management

Schedule Management

Cost Management

Requirements Management

Technology Management


System Safety

Configuration Management





Work Environment

Information Management

Regulatory Environment



Supplier Management


Capabilities require more than system safety and reliability

American Flight 191 – Reason

Apollo 13 – Leveson, Reason, Chiles

Bhopal – Leveson, Reason, Chiles

Challenger – Vaughn, Leveson, Reason, Chiles, Hollnagel

Chernobyl – Leveson, Reason, Chiles

Clapham Junction – Reason

Columbia – Columbia Investigatory Committee, Chiles, Hollnagel

The Fishing Industry - Gaël

Flixborough – Leveson, Reason

Hospital Emergency Wards – Woods and Mears

Japan Airlines 123 – Reason

Katrina - Westrum

King’s Cross Underground – Leveson, Reason

Mars Lander - Leveson

Nagoya Airbus 300 – Dijkstra

New York Electric Power Recovery on 9/11 - Mendoça

Philips 66 Company – Reason, Chiles

Piper Alpha – Reason, Chiles, Paté-Cornell, Hollnagel

Seveso – Leveson, Reason

Texas City – Hughes, Chiles

Three Mile Island – Leveson, Reason, Chiles

TWA 800 – National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

Windscale – Leveson

Case Studies Covered Many Domains



“A safety culture is a learning culture.”

James Reason,

Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents

“The severity with which a system fails is directly proportional to the intensity of the designer's belief that it cannot.”(The Titanic Effect)

Nancy Leveson, Safeware: System Safety and Computers

“Focus on problems.”

Weick and Sutcliffe, Managing Uncertainty

“One of our largest problems was success.”

Cor Horkströter, Royal Dutch/Shell

Some Quotes

“[Feynman’s] failure estimate for the shuttle system was 1 in 25…”

“[NASA’s] estimate [of failure] range from 1 in 100 [by working engineers] to 1 in 100,000 [by management]”

Diane Vaughn,

The Challenger Launch Decision

The Feynman Observation

Priority Number 3 – Do you have a good risk tool?

Priorities: A personal view(page 1)

Priority Number 2 – Do you have a good risk process?

Priority Number 3 – Do you have a good risk tool?

Priorities: A personal view(page 2)

Priority Number 1 – Do you take risk seriously?

Priority Number 2 – Do you have a good risk process?

Priority Number 3 – Do you have a good risk tool?

Priorities: A personal view(page 3)

- Paradigm No. 1 – The belief that even having risks is a sign of bad management

- Paradigm No. 2 – Risk as a “normative” condition

Diane Vaughn:

“NASA’s ‘can do’ attitude created a … risk taking culture that forced them to push ahead no matter what..”

“…flying with acceptable risks was normative in NASA culture.”

Two important risk paradigms

Definition: Mind-set, perception, way of thinking, cultural belief

Definition: Mind-set, perception, way of thinking, cultural belief

Some Paradigms

  • Don’t bother me with small problems.

  • Our system (airplane, etc) is safe. It has never had a major accident.

  • We can’t afford to verify everything.

  • My job is to assure a safe design.

  • If I am ethical, I have nothing else to worry about.

More Paradigms (p. 2)

  • If I get too close to safety issues, then I may be liable.

  • Safety is the responsibility of individuals, not organizations

  • Our customer pays us to design systems, not organizations

  • Human error has already been taken into account in safety analyses

  • Accidents are inevitable; there is nothing you can do to prevent them

  • Organizational issues are the purview of program management

Still More Paradigms (p. 3)

  • I am hampered by scope, schedule and cost constraints

  • Our contracts (with the customer and suppliers) do not allow us to consider aspects outside of design

  • Human errors are random and uncontrollable

  • You can’t predict serious accidents

  • To change paradigms all we need is a good executive and lots of training

Wreathall says we must consider “meta-risks,” that is, risks that we all know are there and do not consider

Epstein says that the important risks are in the lower right hand corner of the risk matrix:

Some Thoughts on Risk(from the Second Symposium on Resilience Engineering, Juan-les-Pins, France, November 2006)

  • Low probability

  • High consequence

  • Lots of them

  • Examine by simulation

The Genesis of Paradigms

Our paradigms

Cultural Beliefs

Pressures (cost,

schedule, etc.)

The Old Model

Start Here








The New Model (Simplified)

Start Here









Communities of




The Hero-Executive

Socratic teaching


Self-discovery through communities of practice

Independent reviews

Cost and schedule margins

Standard processes


Rewards and incentives

Management selection

Some Approaches

Community of Practice

Core Group



Core Group




Self-Discovery Through Communities of Practice

Progress is both top-down and bottom-up

Organizational psychology is a necessary discipline for mission assurance and, hence, also for systems engineering

Training and top-down mandates have limited effectiveness

Self-discovery is the preferred path. No one can teach you the right paradigm; you have to learn it yourself.


Vaughn, Diane, The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture and Deviance at NASA, University of Chicago Press, 1996

Reason, James, Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents, Ashgate, 1997

Leveson, Nancy, Safeware: System Safety and Computers, Addison Wesley, 1995

Weick, Karl E. and Sutcliffe, Kathleen M., Managing the Unexpected, Jossey-Bass, 2001

Senge, Peter, et al, The Dance of Change, Doubleday, 1999

Wegner, Etienne, et al, Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity, University of Cambridge, 1998

Some Recommended Reading

  • Login