Incident Reviews – Learning from Experience

Not everyone learns from their own mistakes, but the best do – as I’ve discovered through facilitating incident reviews.

Organisations which review any incidents and near misses are able to learn from their own experiences. However, the very best organisations are also keen to learn from other people’s experiences, not just their own.

Strategic business consulting - incident reviews

The sad story of 10-year-old Sam Boulding, who died of asthma a number of years ago when his parents were unable to call an ambulance on their faulty telephone, offers your organisation an opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences and reflect on how incident reviews might help you avoid a similar situation.

Phone service provider, Telstra had not technically breached its customer service standards by not repairing the broken phone line. But community expectations of the information and service which should have been provided to Sam’s home were higher, with then Communications Minister Richard Alston describing as “pretty slack” Telstra’s system of dealing with priority needs customers.

Following the widespread criticism of its telephone fault repair processes and its handling of priority connections, Telstra faced rigorous new licensing conditions and reviewing operating policies, systems and processes to ensure such an incident does not happen again.

Lessons and Incident Reviews

Do any of your customers have special or critical conditions which might cause them to rely in some way on your products or services? Would you even know? If you do know, is the information available to all the people in your organisation who might need it? Have you had any ‘near misses’ that warrant formal incident reviews to avoid similar situations arising in the future? Are you ruthless in facilitating incident reviews internally, before external pressure forces an incident review on you?

Do you have the right operating policies, systems and processes in place to fulfil all reasonable expectations? (And given that community expectations of what is reasonable can change quickly, maybe even some which might seem a bit unreasonable?)

Reviewing issues such as these should be a central part of your regular business strategic planning process.

 

Quote of Note

“Yesterday’s miracle is today’s intolerable condition.”

Lewis D Eigen

 

Incident reviews help your organisation learn without having to endure the worst experiences some organisations face. Contact us for details about how we can help by professionally facilitating your incident reviews on site and in confidence.

Looking forward to your comments...

Can a crisis plan really help?

You need a crisis plan

I’ve heard it said that process of creating a Crisis Plan is pointless because the crises you plan for are never the ones which happen.

While there may be an element of truth, if for no other reason than any good planning process includes reducing exposure to identifiable risks, it isn’t the full story.

A crisis plan helps you to respond more effectively, even if the situation was not anticipated during the crisis planning process.

There are many different crises which might happen to you. Yet in all of them the situation is characterized by a need to make critical decisions under pressure from a lack of time and information, and in the face of a rapidly escalating cost (in human as well as financial terms) for the resources needed to communicate and implement those decisions.

A crisis plan, at the very least allows you to collect information and allocate resources without the time pressure generated by a critical situation.  So even in a totally unexpected situation, you will be somewhat better prepared as responsibilities have been already been allocated for decision-making and available resources identified in advance, during the crisis planning process.

Crisis Plan Process

The crisis planning process can focus decisions and establish a common point of view from which your team can respond in a crisis, confident in their interpretation of the organisation’s position and supported by your crisis plan.

Any crisis plan is a flexible guide to action.  And it is only ever as good as the crisis planning process which produced it. A sound crisis planning process will not only reduce the risk of crises occurring.  It will develop the skills your people need to respond appropriately should the unanticipated actually ever occur because they have the confidence afforded by your a crisis plan.