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Learn from yesterday and today, improve for tomorrow

By Alan Smith, Head of Investigations, STC INSISO.

If there is one key insight from my career that I am always keen to share, it is that almost every incident I have investigated was preventable and preceded by indicators that were either missed or overlooked.  This applies to both my former career as a Detective Superintendent working on high-profile crime cases and to my current career as an industry investigator.

Alan Smith, Head of Investigations, STC INSISO

In industry, it isn’t that organisations don’t care, it is quite simply that they aren’t always orientated or geared towards proactive scanning and learning.  My mantra is not to wait until something goes wrong but to be actively curious.

There are emerging investigation philosophies which I consider pioneering in terms of genuine learning and improvement. One of these philosophies is Human and Organisational Performance (HOP) which encompasses five key principles:

  • Error is normal – Accept that good people will make mistakes.
  • Blaming human error is pointless – Error likely situations are predictable and manageable.
  • Context drives behaviour – Has the organisation set up its workers for success or failure?
  • How we respond matters – How the senior team responds to failure really matters.
  • Learning is vital – Organisational learning and improvement go hand in hand.

Of course, human error is inevitable, but organisations can minimise the effect of errors through identifying what are termed ‘error traps’ and build organisational resilience. So, when errors occur, the effects and consequences are minimised.

At STC INSISO, we have been working closely with HOP Consultant, Andy Whitley, to weave his expertise in this learning philosophy into our COMET audit and investigation toolkit.  The result is COMET Resilience.  Facilitate learning teams sessions with your personnel and learn about the everyday work of your organisation from those who actually do the work.  It’s a chance to identify areas for improvement (latent factors) and to recognise what your organisation does well (resilience factors), all in a safe and open manner, where blame plays no part.

If your organisation is keen embrace the HOP philosophy, COMET Resilience provides the framework and captures the findings which will take your organisational learning and improvement to a new level.  Don’t wait for an incident to occur, find out more by visiting: COMET Resilience (