SOR 515 Reliability Security Blankets
Chris discusses ‘reliability security blankets.’ You know what security blankets are – the things that parents offer young children to make them feel safe and comfortable. Not because these blankets actually offer warmth, comfort or safety – but rather because the children associate feelings of warmth and safety with that object because it is ‘always there’ when they are at home or go to be. A reliability security blanket does the same thing – it calms the leaders, managers, bosses, and directors of an organization. But – that is it! There is no reliability to be found. Want to learn more? Listen to this podcast!
Join Chris as he discusses ‘reliability security blankets.’ A security blanket is often a small, portable blanket parents give to their children every night when they go to sleep, or otherwise relax in a safe environment. And the child quickly associates feelings of safety and warmth with that blanket. So in unfamiliar situations, we can give that security blanket to that child to make them feel safe and warm. But the security blanket offers no actual protection. They are small – so they don’t offer a lot of warmth. They can’t prevent harm.
The same things apply to ‘reliability security blankets’ that we see in many organizations across the world.
- What is a ‘reliability security blanket?’ Anything (like frameworks, activities, posters, policies, departments and so on) that offers the feeling of reliability that is then projected on the world around them – without actually going through the process of achieving reliability. And these security blankets can be quite expensive! Like funding an entire ‘data analytics’ team – whose outputs have never actually improved design.
- Reliability security blankets cost time/money/resources with no meaningful outputs (beyond the feeling of reliability). Because the cost of the reliability security blanket is less than the cost of actually achieving reliability.
- Any good examples? Yes. Plenty. Like organizations that follow a (sometimes exhaustive) checklist of tests and procedures that perhaps align with standards or guidebooks without taking the time (or expending the mental effort) to take a first-principles look at the weak points of the system design and do something useful about them.
- What makes reliability security blankets really bad? When they permeate all the way to the top. If the CEO or the directors seek security blankets – then this need to feel reliabiltiy quickly spreads across the entire organization.
- So what do I do? Find your reliability security blankets. Look at things you do that are associated with feelings and not outputs. And then … go back to first principles.
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