Table 1

Definitions of high-reliability principles

Preoccupation with failureRecognising small risks, errors or deviations that could be a symptom of larger problems and acting on them. This process requires that organisations identify and specify mistakes they do not want to make and call attention to them when they do occur.
Reluctance to simplify interpretationsTaking steps to counteract the tendency to minimise or explain away problems. This includes bringing together different perspectives and talking about new ways of doing things.
Sensitivity to operationsBeing aware of the ‘big picture’, specifically how all components of work fit together, watchfulness for moment-to-moment changes in conditions, and how problems in one area can spread to other areas. It requires close attention to what is happening in the present.
Commitment to resilienceBuilding organisational capacity to deal with unexpected events when regular planning fails by containing an error early to limit further problems.
Deference to expertiseDecentralised decision-making in high tempo times and drawing on the ‘right’ expertise regardless of hierarchy with expertise changing depending on the situation.