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Oct 12

Sensitivity to operations I

Posted by dvstralen  filed under    0 Comment(s)    Add a Comment  comment-icon.png

I advised a resident physician that, once she mastered a procedure, she should teach it because in life she will be teaching her subordinates while she is performing the procedure. Later, she came to me excited; she never knew all the things that went on while placing a tube into a patient's windpipe (endotracheal intubation). During dynamic events we easily cone our attention to what we are doing, shutting out other activities as we concentrate. One of the first things we must teach a rookie is to be aware of all that is around him or her. 

Sensitivity to operations, the awareness of and interaction with the activity of others, is not customary for people, they have to learn how to do it, learn how to actively monitor. But we cannot do things on automatic.

Can we distinguish between sensitivity to operations and situation awareness? (Situational awareness is to be aware depending on the situation, hence situational.) To me, sensitivity to operations describes how other operations bot influence your and are influenced by your operations while situation awareness is more passive, it is more related to perception and mental processing.

Is there scaling with sensitivity to operations, that is, can we distinguish between sensitivity to operations at a personal level and between organizational levels? At an operations level we share the same primary problem and work in the same environment. As we move up in the organization we begin to interact with others outside of our problem environment. These people may not see what we see. At this point we must begin looking through their eyes, as what they see, from their specific operational environment, will not be what we see from our operational environment.

Weick and Sutcliffe

Organizations must respond to the reality within their system, leaders cannot respond to what they believe is the system. For this, the leader will monitor within the system and respond as an organization to the unexpected. In this discussion, Weick and Sutcliffe present operations within the organization.

Leaders in an organization may overestimate the soundness of the system, particularly from both confirmation bias (the see only what is favorable), an indifferent environment did not test the system, or near misses were misinterpreted as successes do to the qualities of the program.

 Weick states that, in sensitivity to operations, he was comparing it to sensitivity to planning. This was to get people out of the mindset of planning and missing what was going on "right now.” Sensitivity to operations was done to counter sensitivity to planning. (Personal communication, February 1, 2013)

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