Imagine this: A category four hurricane is forming in the Atlantic and is projected to make landfall in the Carolinas, causing damage all the way up the coast to Maine. Meteorologists predict wind gusts up to 150 mph, which will lead to power outages in coastal communities from D.C. to Cape Cod.
While the eastern seaboard is used to dealing with hurricanes, weather of this magnitude is not a regular occurrence – for some it is once in a lifetime. While that may mean it is more difficult to prepare for an event such as this, it doesn’t make it any less important or critical to do so. This is one example of a high consequence situation.
Not all high consequence situations are life and death. Some pertain to compliance, the protection of intellectual property, the financial security of an organization, or certifications that are critical to keeping a business operational.
It is in instances like these where high-consequence training becomes an essential part of any plan. High consequence training, which has been more often associated with military training, is all about preparing people and organizations that operate in high consequence environments to succeed – especially when the stakes are highest.
According to Weick & Sutcliffe, high consequence organizations possess the following characteristics:
- Significant business concern with occurrence/prevention of failure events
- Process or technical complexities that resist simplification
- Focus on operational functioning
- Dedication to organizational resilience
- High value on industry/domain expertise
High consequence organizations can also be referred to across various industries as safety critical organizations, high risk organizations, or high reliability organizations.High consequence environments are highly concerned with managing, mitigating or eliminating risk due to very high costs associated with failing to do so. This breeds a culture where zero-failure is the goal – anything less is unacceptable.
Related to this, is closely managing or eliminating unwanted variability. Unwanted variance can result in disaster when consistency and predictability is what’s required for success. This focus on “controlling” risk and variability is why strong processes and procedures are so important and are adhered to the degree they are in these environments. In most high consequence environments, there are regulations and compliance standards that are key to success.
At Raytheon Professional Services (RPS) we define high consequence training as the implementation of processes, tools, and programs that instruct individuals and organizations on how to prevent or minimize disruption and manage risk. These best practices lead to increased competency, sharper decision making skills, improved safety, and protection for the bottom line.
While high consequence training methods vary by industry and circumstance, the underlying principles can be applied within any field, giving organizations the training and resources they need to act efficiently and effectively when it matters most. Whether it’s a utility company preparing for a major weather related event, an oil and gas company preparing workers for offshore survival, a healthcare organization training emergency room staff in group emotional intelligence or a financial institution ensuring regulatory compliance—high consequence training delivers the best outcomes when it is immersive, realistic and repetitive. Practice makes perfect.
In the end, high consequence training helps organizations create a concrete process for how to handle events that they can anticipate, and events they have yet to experience.
For additional resources on the topic, consider reading the following articles:
- Preparing for High Risk High Consequence Situations
- New Tropical Helicopter Underwater Escape Training
Tracy Cox, director, applied strategies for RPS also hosted a related webinar in partnership with Energy Central, titled: Training for Disruption – The PG&E and Con Edison Stories that may be of additional interest.
And remember, when it comes to high consequence training, the best offense is always strong defense!