Where is the Performance Issue?

An old shipmate of mine shared this video on Facebook due to the “wow factor.” So after I watched it – my first thought was “boy are those two in troouubblle!” Then I caught myself. That’s my OLD thinking. Take 90 seconds and watch the video (just click the image) and then lets consider a different way of viewing the issue!

 Capturehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2jAG58dnmg

The firefighters were fortunate that the car didn’t go through the guardrail or hit something else (car, house, person) and create even more damage!

As I alluded to above, the old Navy Chief and Father in me immediately thought “what were they thinking? Why didn’t they secure the scene first??” It’s hard to re-wire your brain to approach everything in a systematic fashion, but I keep trying!

When I am being analytical (vice emotional) I generally start with Chevalier’s (2003) Updated Behavior Engineering Model in Table 1 below to consider a problem.

Without having access to the performers or their organization it is still reasonable to look at the model below and consider environmental and individual factors to start looking at. This analysis often leads to other interesting things!

As noted in Expectations of the Workforce… 75-80 percent of the factors that influence performance are environmentally rather than individually based. So that is where we start and after watching the video I wondered what the National Fire Protection Association standards say about this type of situation. Given the extensive list of NFPA standards, I think I would need some help from a subject matter expert to narrow it down! That covers the Environment: Information column.

If there is a standard, next up is to check and see if it has been translated into the fire department’s procedures and there are directions to the firefighters to secure a burning vehicle before putting out the fire. Let’s assume that so far we are all good and the standards and procedures are in place.

BEM

Table 1: The Updated BEM (Chevalier, 2003). Reprinted with Permission

Now I would be asking to see the truck and have one of the firefighters show me where the equipment is that could be used to secure that car. There should be a few different options. Two that spring to mind are steel chocks or a steel cable with a “come-along” that could be attached to the truck and the car. Maybe attaching a burning car to a fire truck is bad juju… I’m not sure – but the experts would be quick to tell me if I am thinking crazy!

That takes care of the Environment: Resources column. If we are still ticking the YES Box at this point and have discovered nothing else in the workers environment, it is time to start looking at the firefighters.

The first place to look is at the training program. If the training program has the required procedure included, then we want to see if the firefighters on scene actually received that training. That is the Individual: Knowledge/Skills column. Really – this is still an organizational factor as it is up to the organization to provide the training and assign qualified people to work in certain positions. If this is all still correct – it might be time for someone to put the “Chief” hat on and kick some heiny!

Okay – not really. It has also been proven that generally – heiny kicking isn’t helpful. At this point we need to look at the capacity and motives of the individuals involved.

It is more than likely (75-80% chance?) that there is an information or resource issue at the root of this video. Rectifying that would probably lead to some changes to standards, policies, procedures, equipment fit on the trucks and maybe even some training.

Learning Organizations have a process for capturing these types of scenarios so that they don’t happen again… sounds like a great topic for down the road!

References

Chevalier, R. (2003). Updating the behavior engineering model. Performance Improvement, 42(5). Silver Spring, MD: International Society for Performance Improvement.

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More on Metrics

On the weekends, my wife and I start the day by watching CBC’s The National evening news show. The February 12th edition had a segment called The Next: Server Farms (5:03) which provides a glimpse into the power consumption requirements of the Internet.

One statement caught my attention. The reporter said around minute 2:15

“…most people who run corporate data centers aren’t responsible for how much energy their IT systems use. They’re judged on reliability and speed.”

As noted in Mentors, Managers and Metrics, these are great metrics, but again they don’t tell the whole story! Different metrics are needed to measure the work going on within the system itself! So a learning moment for me… electrical consumption for the servers and cooling are an important measure of efficiency in this scenario.

In this story it appears that the biggies like Facebook are learning these lessons already, realizing that reduced energy consumption means big savings. It is the small to medium sized companies that have may have more to gain by reducing – or better managing the use of their idle servers. Food for thought for all my IT friends and colleagues.

When we apply Performance Improvement methods to a problem in the workplace, we try our best to be systemic and systematic in our approach. To do that, we need to “see” the problem (or opportunity) from many different angles and levels inside and outside of the organization. This morning I learned another perspective… and I hadn’t even planned on writing anything!

One more thought popped up while in the shower (where I do my best thinking and some average singing) – I wonder if an environmental impact assessment has been done for the barge server farm in the story… to determine the effects of warming the water around it to cool the servers. An outside of the organization perspective.

Okay – NOW I am off to hockey. Happy Saturday everyone!