Frequently asked questions

What is High Reliability?


Reliability is, "getting the expected outcome through the expected time. Unfortunately, it has become popular to add the adjective, "Highly" to the term. A system delivers what is expected, or doesn't. Something is reliable or it is not. Now, if one wants to compare two or more entities, an appropriate modifier could be, "higher" or "lower" reliability where all entities achieve the expected outcome through the expected time but at least one pair achieves better or worse outcomes and/or earlier or later failure. For healthcare, we add one more word at the end, "safely." In no other industry has it been so popular to emphasize organizations should do no harm to its customers in the definition of reliability.




Why the debate about Lean or Six Sigma?


Anyone who has worked in a High Reliability Organization (HRO), especially one who has designed products or services for an HRO has: 1. Committed and visible leadership 2. Ability to meet customer expectations consistently 3. Culture of continuous improvement 4. Culture of safety 5. Above all, reliability engineering skills to design for capable and stable performance For those of us who have delivered reliable products and services to HRO customers in automotive, U.S Navy Nuclear, electrical power distribution, healthcare and demanding Big Box Retailers, we don't debate the ideology. We have and use the skills needed to deliver the expected outcomes through the expected time safely. As our President said to the United Nations, "We are guided by outcomes, not ideologies."




How will we know we are a High Reliability Organization?


You will be alone, at least in some industries. In industries where HROs exist, you will own a significant market share and be earning higher than average financial margins. HROs have the highest performance to customer expectations, for the desired lifecycle and lower cost of poor quality which drains customers, your associates and your profit/margin. We also find you will be one of the most respected by customers, suppliers, regulatory bodies, and most important, your associates.




How long does it take to become a High Reliability Organization?


3 or more years is empirically what we find for organizations that are delivering quality to the customer well today, but may not be the most reliable in its realm. Much more for those struggling in performance. The good news is a knowledgeable and acting leadership team can speed the journey by investing in its associates' reliability skills, partnering with HRO suppliers, staying close to its customers and "Utilizing the 3Ms (1. Measure process quality 2. Manage to these measures in real-time and 3. Make it easier for associates to achieve reliability.) We don't really know in some industries where the expected lifecycle (time) such as in electrical power distribution circuit breakers literally last a lifetime. But, we do accelerated life testing and stress testing of these long life products to understand their capability in delivering the expected outcomes for the design's life.





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