CHR Standard

What is High Reliability?

Simply put, high reliability is sustained performance over time. The scientific way to accomplish this is not to focus on outcomes, but on seeing the underlying forces that contribute to outcomes that are both good and bad. While successful organizations are good at measuring outcomes, few measure and manage the risk factors that contribute to bad outcomes. This makes them vulnerable.

Good leaders are often caught by surprise when things go wrong — because they can’t manage what they cannot see. Understanding what has already happened is of limited value in managing forward. Incident investigations and root cause analyses focus on only one possible pathway to failure, and often won’t prevent tomorrow’s accident. Even worse, these investigations often lead to assigning blame, which creates a chilling effect on reporting and inhibits an organization’s ability to collect information about risk.

Truly reliable organizations strive to see, understand, and manage risks before they become undesired outcomes, and have systems and programs in place that makes risk visible.

A Global Standard for Operational High Reliability

Any organization can become reliable when it possesses four key elements: (1) executive commitment to achieving and sustaining operational reliability; (2) a culture that supports risk identification and reporting; (3) alignment between all high reliability attributes of the enterprise (customer service, safety, quality, privacy, operational integrity, financial responsibility and equity); and (4) a standard for high reliability that defines it in scientific, measurable terms, against which an organization’s status can be independently audited and verified.

To map this journey and provide frameworks to help organizations become reliable, SG Collaborative Solutions authored the world’s first independently audited Collaborative High Reliability® Standard, along with programs, methods, tools, and requirements to achieve certification. These programs are described below.

The Sequence of Reliability®

Achieving qualification in Collaborative High Reliability requires a scientific approach, discipline, and a shared language that enables everyone in an organization to equally contribute to reliable operational performance by actively reporting and managing risk. This approach is known as the Sequence of Reliability.

Becoming highly reliable requires a scientific understanding of how organizations operate and produce results. Organizations are socio-technical entities, meaning people working with and inside of systems. To understand and optimize this complex relationship, the organization must start with seeing and understanding risk, and recognize how risk is perceived by individuals, teams, and the entire organization.

The CHR model and taxonomy starts with applying socio-technical science in a specific order, known as The Sequence of Reliability. This sequence provides the foundation by which CHR produces and sustains organizational improvement.

The Sequence of Reliability is:

1. Develop the ability to See and Understand Risk, then
2. Manage Reliability in this order:
a) System (to become effective and resilient)
b) Human (both human performance and human behavior)
c) Organization (to achieve sustainment and become predictive)

Organizations use the Sequence of Reliability to advance toward CHR certification in two phases, the first taking a year or less to complete and the second accomplished by the end of year three. The sooner organizational leaders commit to CHR, the sooner measurable benefits are realized.

Phase One: Qualifications

  • Reliability Management Team (RMT): One of the first steps toward achieving the CHR standard is to develop and qualify an RMT that serves as subject matter experts guiding the organization to high reliability. This select team is comprised of cross-departmental leaders and staff across the enterprise, and typically includes 12-22 members, depending on the size of the organization. The charter of the RMT is to guide, train, and promote CHR. More than a typical steering committee, most members of the RMT achieve one or more individual role qualifications, including: Leaders, Mentors, Fact-Gatherers, and Instructors.
  • Collaborative Just Culture® (CJC) Program: No organization can achieve high reliability without frontline employee engagement and risk reporting. CJC shifts focus from human behaviors toward the risks, systems, and human performance shaping factors that influence human choices that lead to bad outcomes. This employee-friendly approach is not only effective in encouraging risk reporting, it also increases employee engagement and satisfaction. While many organizations in the past have embraced just culture as a philosophy, CJC elevates workplace justice and collaboration into a program that is documented, monitored, and measured, providing mutual accountability between management and employees.

Phase Two: Collaborative High Reliability® Organization Certification

Once RMT and CJC qualifications are achieved, the organization begins development and operation of a Reliability Management System (RMS). An RMS is an integrated system to see, understand, and manage risk in each of the CHR attributes.

As an organization becomes accustomed to risk-focused methods and achieves alignment and operational proficiency under its RMS, the organization is prepared for certification audit in Collaborative High Reliability.
This phase involves integration of the Reliability Management System across the enterprise. In alignment with quality management principles, CHR programs, teams, and organizations must be continuously documented, monitored, and measured for effectiveness. To achieve CHR organization certification, these components must be aligned and integrated into its RMS. CHR organizational qualification is independently audited every two years.

About the Collaborative High Reliability® Standard

Collaborative High Reliability Standard (CHR) is a set of universal standards developed by SG Collaborative Solutions to help organizations in high-consequence industries see, understand, and manage the risks that contribute to adverse events and outcomes. It is an evidence-based standard developed from decades of operational experience and is the first scientific socio-technical specification of its kind. While particularly effective in highly-regulated industries, the CHR standard is not specific to one industry and can be applied effectively in organizations of any size.

Organizations seeking certification and qualification in CJC and CHR are independently audited every two years.

Collaborative High Reliability® and Collaborative Just Culture® are registered trademarks of SG Collaborative Solutions, LLC. DNV is licensed as an independent auditor of the CHR standard, providing independent third-party validation that programs, teams, and organizations meet CHR standards.