Performance: Going for the Deep Dive

In this series’s previous post, I discussed the identification of critical controls in the service of a fully-functioning airport (or anything for that matter) safety assurance, but that is not the end of the story.

The point of having these critical controls is to provide your organisation with an account of how it manages risk.

The role of the Accountable Executive, supported by their subordinates, is to be in a position to provide that account and to ensure that it aligns with the organisation’s strategy and objectives, or vice versa.

There may be some discussion on the level to which this account should reach but the following article outlines what is thought to be an effective and achievable middle ground.

A Model for Doing Stuff

When approaching the problem of assessment, it is advisable to have general model of how stuff gets done. In this case, you need a model of a systematic approach to doing.

Probably one of the most widely accepted models is PDCA which stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act. There is plenty of information on the Internet on PDCA and perhaps it is the result of an inadequate understanding on my part but I like to modify it slightly.

For me (and others), the D(o) and the A(ct) are the same thing, and you may not want to act if you haven’t planned that action appropriately.

So I like to look at it as PDC and while the P-D-C steps are in order, they may not always flow one after the other. You might have ten goes at the doing before you do a check and that might send you right back to the doing part. Below, is a somewhat colourful and hopefully informative diagram.

PDC Diagram

Starting at the Start

I hope it is obvious that this circular, feedback driven process starts with a plan. This plan will be based on the identified risk, any legislated standards and/or regulatory requirements as well as industry best practices. This is where your assessment standard will also need to start.

The assessment of the “plan” step will include answering the following questions:

  1. Does the plan address the risk, does it meet standards and requirements and is it best practice?
  2. Is the plan documented (for example, in the Aerodrome Manual or in the Wildlife Hazard Management Plan)?
  3. Does the plan result in assessable procedures, tools and/or training?

Going for a Ride

The next step of the assessment (and therefore the next part of the assessment standard) will look at the “do” part. This process will involve:

  1. Checking that the do-er has access to the procedures
  2. Checking that the do-er’s tools are fit-for-purpose, available and serviceable
  3. Checking that the do-er is trained
  4. Checking that it all comes together to achieve the plan

Who Checks the Checkers?

Some people might argue that the process I am outlining here (critical controls and assessment standards), is the “check” step - I don’t agree.

This step in the cycle is for those in the cycle. This overall process of assurance discussed here, sits outside the cycle. It is independent (and hopefully, objective) as its goal is not in the doing but in the managing or governance.

The “check” step is about feedback to the do-er and will be, itself, laid out in the plan. The plan should discuss when a supervisor or manager will review records to identify trends or sign-off work as complete - it will vary. At the very least, you are looking for feedback.

Probably, the best example I can think of is for regular but random checks of airside drivers. The authorising of drivers is the “doing” part but going out on the movement area and checking licences or measuring vehicle speeds is the “checking”.

Your assessment standard should include these steps to provide an overall picture of the system in action.

Pulling it Together

With assessment standard in hand, it is time to get to work - auditing. Some might not consider auditing real work but it can be challenging, especially when your goal is addressing risk in a functional, yet efficient way.

Runway Entry

The end result will be a condense but complete picture of how a critical control is performing. This digestible form will allow your Accountable Executive to have a full appreciation of the process by which your organisation manages risk. Put it together with some contextual statistics (e.g. significant events, losses, magnitude of operations), and your assurance processes will put you in the drivers position in terms of accountability and improvement.

This was part 3 in a 3-part series on proactive safety assurance in relation to risk assessment - part 1 looked at the Safety Assurance process overall while part 2 explored the concept of critical controls.

Feel free to contribute to this post and other posts by leaving a comment below (registration needed before you can comment).

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