Top 10 Recommended Resources
Updated: Feb 15
To stay brief and focused, I included only the 10 that I tend to recommend the most. All have different benefits, and are *not* ranked.
by Matthew Syed
A great introduction to the applied psychology of human error. No jargon. No unnecessary academic terminology. Just powerful stories of real world errors and evidence-based ideas for how to manage them better.
The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error by Sidney Dekker
An excellent set of guidelines on how to lead non-punitive Incident / Event Analyses. Not a step-by-step procedure, but a set of timeless principles that any reasonably skilled event analyst can apply to their own process. See especially Dekker's sections on "counterfactuals" and why "human error" is never a root cause.
by Atul Gawande
The tool itself is deceptively simple. But the organizational battles to get checklists accepted into common everyday practice (outside of aviation) are anything but simple. An excellent read on one of the most versatile Human Reliability tools in existence.
Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty by Karl E. Weick & Kathleen M. Sutcliffe
The flight decks of aircraft carriers. The control rooms of nuclear power plants. Air traffic control centers. How do these "High-Reliability Organizations" deliver near perfect results year in and year out? Weick and Sutcliffe elegantly explain the five (5) traits supported by 30 years of research.
The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle
This little gem clarifies the often mysterious concept of "Culture" into something so clear and concrete, it's almost tangible. Packed with rock-solid success stories (and cautionary tales) from Seal Team 6, Zappos Shoes, and Air Force Missileers plus many surprises.
From Outcome Engenuity
Interviews of senior leaders in a North Carolina hospital before, during, and after they evolved to Just Culture. An excellent video to show to skeptics to open productive dialogue on reducing blame, improving Psychological Safety, and building a Just Culture.
By Chip & Dan Heath
Very little of Human Performance / HOP is "new." Wise people have used some form of checklists, substitution tests, non-punitive debriefings, and resilience for hundreds of years. So why do so many of those great ideas stay on the fringes instead of getting adopted into the mainstream. The authors offer a powerful, practical solution that applies to any good idea you want to "stick" in the minds of your listeners.
The Safety Anarchist: Relying on Human Expertise and Innovation, and Reducing Bureaucracy and Compliance
By Sidney Dekker
Many leaders apply a mechanistic approach to safety. They install controls, write strict procedures, and enforce compliance. But these mechanistic strategies often backfire in adaptive, human-based systems. Dekker makes the long-overdue argument for basing modern safety policy on Work-as-Done (WAD), not Work-as-Imagined (WAI).
US Department of Energy (DOE) HPI Handbooks
Classic, thorough, and in the Public Domain, courtesy of your Department of Energy. They are a bit dated (2009) so use them as an encyclopedia, not a How-To Guide.
Set Phasers on Stun: True Tales of Design, Technology & Human Error
by Steven Casey
No concepts. No theories. No cheese-based models. Just jaw-dropping stories. Some are classics, like those on Chernobyl, Bhopal, and the 2003 Northeast Blackout. Others will be fresh and unknown to most readers, and involve elements like: WWII Frogmen, Swedish rockets, hospital IV pumps, and peppermint-flavored bar drinks.