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Title: Integral leadership and signal detection for high reliability organizing and learning

Author: Saveland, J. M.;

Date: 2005

Source: In: Butler, B. W.; Alexander, M. E., eds. Eighth International Wildland Firefighter Safety Summit: Human Factors - 10 Years Later; April 26-28, 2005 Missoula, MT. Hot Springs, SD: The International Association of Wildland Fire. 14 p.

Publication Series: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)

Description: In the last ten years, the fire management community has made significant advances in firefighter safety and leadership development. Yet, there is no discernible downward trend in entrapment fatalities. While the complexity of the job and exposure of an increasing number of firefighters to increasingly severe situations has surely increased over that time frame, the best we can say is that the trend is not increasing. This paper explores the question, how can we make significant advances toward reducing the likelihood of future firefighter fatalities? Signal detection theory provides a mechanism to facilitate sensemaking, learning and the exploration of deeper causal models. Signal detection theory can help focus attention on detecting weak signals (and so provide a means for high reliability organizing) and learning from errors (and so provide a means for organizational learning). To make progress toward organizing for high reliability and learning, leadership is required. Some of the vast literature on leadership development is summarized. A critical facet of leadership is creating an environment "where the truth is heard and brutal facts confronted." Signal detection can also be deployed to help create such an environment. The paper concludes with some suggestions for possible next steps.

Keywords: leadership, high reliability organizing, learning

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Saveland, J. M. 2005. Integral leadership and signal detection for high reliability organizing and learning. In: Butler, B. W.; Alexander, M. E., eds. Eighth International Wildland Firefighter Safety Summit: Human Factors - 10 Years Later; April 26-28, 2005 Missoula, MT. Hot Springs, SD: The International Association of Wildland Fire. 14 p.

 


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