A good track record usually means you are good.

Not in safety.


From time to time, the complex universe where we operate introduces exceptional situations. They are not normally distributed. Extreme situations can be preceded by years of calm.


During the calm, it is easy to believe that the good track record reflects successful safety management. But the real test comes when the big surprise materializes: is there enough resilience to deal with the unexpected?


The modern view is that a good organization is not only optimized for the nominal operation but also for the challenging surprises. These goals are partly conflicting, so there is a balance to strike. Picking only one of the two will endanger long-term viability, safetywise and businesswise.


The longer you have operated without an accident, the bigger is the tendency to believe that the operation is fundamentally safe. Inevitably, commercial pressures promote subtle drift in practices, from safer to more optimized. The drift together with the ever-changing environment means there will  be surprises in the future.


Have you built resilience in your operation – consciously and systematically? If you haven’t, your safe track record may be just good luck. The big surprise has not materialized – yet.


How to prepare not only for the foreseeable scenarios but also for the surprise?

How to be less surprised by surprise?