2019 Human Performance, Root Cause, & Trending (HPRCT) Conference
June 17-21, 2019
Cheyenne Mountain Resort
Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Wednesday, June 19 • 3:00pm - 3:50pm
Principles and the Power of Storytelling to Improve Human Performance

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An ever-present challenge for organizations of all shapes and sizes is how to send people home in the same condition in which they showed up to work. An organization’s senior leaders may espouse values about a robust safety and operational culture, but how do they demonstrate that it’s more than just talk?  It’s not enough for an institution to simply have a “safety program” or a list of procedures. Rules and regulations cannot adequately protect those engaged in research and development (R&D). Because of the special characteristics and unique hazards of R&D, the organizational culture must incorporate a healthy safety culture, founded on a collective commitment to put safety first. This commitment applies to everyone in the organization, from the laboratory director to the individual contributor.   At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a Battelle-operated Department of Energy (DOE) multi-mission laboratory with 4,400 staff members, the answer to the challenge has been creating a connection between eight “Safe Conduct of Research (SCoR)” principles and the behavior and decision-making (human performance) of staff members.   These eight principles set the expectation for how each staff member should approach their work. The principles are institutionalized through an awareness campaign which includes an engaging series of videos that demonstrate the principles in action, featuring staff members at all levels of the organization.  The video stories told don’t just feature the “wins”; they also tell of work that didn’t go as planned in an effort to encourage organizational learning and continuous improvement. These stories serve to create “sticky” memories by attaching emotions to occurrences and keep top-of-mind awareness with staff. As a recent article in the Harvard Business Review puts it, “A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts.”   Through the success of the campaign, the SCoR principles are becoming common in work planning and reflection on completed work; staff are willingly incorporating them in pre- and post-job reviews, safety shares, and staff events. This coincides with PNNL’s lowest recordable injury rate in the last 14 years.   “I would rather have ten staff members who actively incorporate the SCoR principles into their thinking and behavior than fifty who are married to procedures,” says one of the presenters.   The end game? An engaged staff, a significant improvement in safety performance, and less reliance on processes and procedures.  In this presentation, you’ll learn more about the SCoR principles from an operations perspective and see examples of the messaging that has been so successful in an R&D environment.

avatar for Shannon


Lessons Learned Program Manager, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Shannon manages the Lessons Learned/Operating Experience program at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). A former radio and television news anchor, she also shoots, writes, and edits many of the videos that PNNL distributes toward the improvement of its safety culture. Shannon... Read More →
avatar for Rob Cuello

Rob Cuello

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Rob has 38 years of experience performing and supporting environmental and energy research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). He currently manages the Operations and Assessment Office within the Energy and Environment Directorate and is responsible for shaping culture... Read More →

Wednesday June 19, 2019 3:00pm - 3:50pm MDT
White River II