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Managing the unexpected: resilient performance in an age of uncertainty

Author(s): Karl E. Weick, Kathleen Sutcliffe
Year Published: 2007

Thousands of firefighters across the United States have been influenced by the first edition of “Managing the Unexpected”. In this second edition, the authors continue their analysis of high reliability organizations (HRO’s), which are organizations that routinely operate in high risk environments (where the consequences of failure can be fatal) while maintaining extremely low accident/error rates. These low accident/error rates arise from a process of sensemaking that Weick and Sutcliffe call mindfulness. The five principles of mindfulness are a preoccupation with failure, reluctance to simplify, sensitivity to operations, deference to expertise, and the ability to be resilient. HRO’s practice mindful organizing and have created mindful infrastructures in which they carry out their dangerous work. The first section of this second edition contains a thorough analysis of the Cerro Grande Fire that burned into Los Alamos, NM, in 2000, causing 250 homes to burn and nearly a billion dollars in damages. Each of the principles of high reliability organizing is discussed in light of the Cerro Grande fire. Other firefighting examples are discussed throughout the book. The principles of HRO and mindfulness that are fully developed in this book would serve as an excellent template for fire managers to begin to think with fresh perspectives about the dangerous fire environments in which they work

Citation: Weick K, Sutcliffe K. 2007. Managing the unexpected: resilient performance in an age of uncertainty. 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 224 p.
Topic(s): Fire Communication & Education, Crisis Communication, Human Dimensions of Fire Management, High Reliability Organizing, Decisionmaking & Sensemaking, Risk
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 15972
Record updated: Nov 28, 2017