Application IX: EHAC & Operating System Development

EHAC stands for the Eureka Holding and Assurance Company, whose no-fault accident approach to operating system development is an experimental procedural tool for surveying developmental difficulties and needs. Originally used to diagnose communication accidents, their consequences in losses and damages, and to report on the frequency of accident types, it is here presented as a prototypic, BFPS theory-based evaluative methodology for self-improvement by individuals and/or communities as change agents wanting to make a difference or more of a difference. This with the strong emphasis that one must compose solutions to problems – and that composing implies that one must make (often many) differences to make one’s bottom-line difference.

Consider this simple problem: How does one draw a straight line using a ruler? It can make a difference where you press down on the ruler to start drawing. If you press down, say at the 2″ mark on a ruler, you may find the drawn line skewed before you even get to the end. The ruler moved. Things happen. They happen in the process. Such process consequentiality impacts one’s efforts to produce a desired final outcome.

For development initiatives to work it is crucial to be able to diagnose that which is dysfunctional and happening in the process. Accident reporting can pinpoint difficulties in a non-threatening way. Loss and damage consequences signal problem spots. When accompanied by circumstances involved, problems become better identified. This approach is much more revealing of process troubles than the input from a suggestion box (: Psit and Pbeh vs. Sbeh).

EHAC respects the behavioral effort being made. The accident perspective assesses control achieved in light of control capability, not just in regard to control need. (Responsibility for successful end-outcome may not. See : responsibility x capability dynamics). When control achieved is equal to control capability, but control need is not met, this is deemed an accident rather than a failure. Such accidents are considered preventable in principle—if and when capability is further developed.

Capability is a process matter. Waiting for success or failure as primary tells waits too long. That strategy is not developed far enough beyond simple trial and error. It misses what we could and should come to know about all the differences we are trying to make in order to make the criterial difference we set as our goal.

EHAC is a kind of functional indicator. State concepts, such as morale and production rates, represent another kind. But states, while they have obvious valuation utility and are acknowledged to be consequential, do not afford anything like the process specificity (see C-11: control foci) that accident reporting could yield as a foundation for development initiatives. That some of EHAC findings could be shared with other enterprises – i.e., have societal utility beyond their proprietary value – is noteworthy too.

Think of the EHAC approach as going beyond the efficiency emphasis of time and motion studies. And beyond the quality control measures yielded by examination of the product or service produced – per se and/or when put to use. Most assuredly beyond “learning from experience” and “learning by doing.” This is about knowing, not learning. It’s about cognizing outcomes of the pieces that go into the composed step, an extension of pragmatism’s applicability. This is evaluation not valuation.

To respect the effort being made we would do better to speak of “knowing while trying to do.” That’s more in accord with the Nature of Things and the human condition.

How do you make EHAC work for your community (e.g., company) and individuals (e.g., members)? Examination of loss and damage claims filed on behalf of individual and/or company reveals relative frequencies of troublespots – no small matter – and circumstances reported are potentially further indicative of the troublespots. No more than this, however, would amount to the informational value of a cross by the highway marking a fatal incident. (Incident, to be sure; “accident” here may be pure public relations.) What we need to know more about are the driver, the vehicle, and the driving performance – plus relevant circumstances other than location. What we need to know is a lot more about the operating systems involved: the driver’s (e.g., fatigue, inebriation), the vehicle’s (e.g., braking and lighting capacities), and the driving performance (e.g., exercised minding capabilities [such as focal attention], learned tool and procedure usages).

When one wants to use EHAC, there needs to be some person (or persons) capable of – not just responsible for (!) – making optimal use of the collected data for this and/or that operating system – in what EHAC presents as a non-threatening way.

In terms of a developmental initiative, primary concern would be to improve performance as an operating system. For communities this may well be a life or death matter. (Nothing so simple as taking steps in unison. Nothing so simple as an assembly line protocol.) EHAC’s basis in BFPS, with the groundwork laid for analysis of process consequentiality (, ), with its detailing of step structure in light of behavioral principles, encourages and enables a developmental focus on performance.

It is unlikely that we would want to investigate just this one operating system. More likely we would want, and expect, to find out about behavioral dysfunction in the operating systems of the worker, the product or service manufactured (sic), and/or the user and use of the product or service. Perhaps even those of the inventor and/or entrepreneur.

Further, we might want to get deeper into the analysis of behavioral dysfunction by sorting out difficulties which appear to pertain to the behavioral problem (: Pbeh) from those which seem to pertain to a situational problem (: Psit) – not making the mistake of subsuming the former in the latter.

Then too, there is the matter of diagnosing troubles in compositional change efforts. What can we find out from accidents and their consequences about “all that it takes”? Especially, perhaps, what can we find out about the agent capabilities involved that could be helpful in the self-development of the working community as a more effective difference maker?

By now we are getting close to advocating a formal research project, perhaps to be undertaken by organizations with an existing research facility, perhaps to be undertaken as a “behavioral science” enterprise by a problem-oriented academic group (multi-/inter- disciplinary?). But if so, then attention should be paid to the accidents in the research agency operation.

However, EHAC might best be approached and first attempted as a heuristic proprietary effort, starting out as a limited gathering, analysis and reporting venture, with the responsible person(s) (editor? monitor? CEO? Vice-president?) developing along with the other operating systems.

Initial focus should probably look to the manufacturing operating system: the difference making that enables us to make a difference, whether that criterial difference be a needed product or service. EHAC offers us leverage for diagnosing, then improving our manufacturing capability. Focus on this operating system – where the work (the jobs!) are — can and should act in turn as leverage for diagnosing and improving other relevant operating systems (e.g., the workers, the users, perhaps even the economy and, through community building, the polity). All in the service of advancing the quality of our lives.

While we focus initially on performance as an operating system, as the difference making closest to the criterial difference of product or service, EHAC data could also bear on any difference making precedent to performance, such as building a community (, ) and/or imagining an architecture for performing.

Performing a composition follows on, is contingent on, composing the performance – obvious in music, but also a needed reminder that this pertains to only one type of problem, that of having a solution but having to repeat it (:Sp). Erosion of capability and of performance is a continuing threat here.

Armed with the minding resources of BFPS, giving behavior its due (, ), we can develop a molecular understanding of the step making and taking involved in the manufacturing process – indeed, in all compositional processes. Wouldn’t it be grand if a more basic education would have introduced everyone to that molecular understanding? Accident reports help to reveal process consequentiality in terms of relevant control foci – i.e., the molecular units of any manufacturing process.

This focus on the manufacturing process and performance points to what change agents endeavor to achieve as a substitute for, or complement to, circumstantial change. This is about composing. Not that many problems can be solved by waiting for them to go away or for circumstance to intervene. And some kinds of problems (: S-P, Ps and P) will never be solved by fortuitous circumstances. Evolution’s fatalities and survivors are not the kind of solution we need.

EHAC is one of many possible functional indicators. It enjoys, as pointed out above, the advantage of being able to tell us far more than a “bottom line” evaluation. The disadvantage of the latter has been made very evident in education’s “teaching to the test.” Thousands of schools are into manufacturing and performing. (Let’s leave it at the intransitive. Product vs. service is too simple a characterization of the consequences involved.)

(Teaching is as much open to question as test. For one thing, the curriculum’s problem solving emphasis is limited, primarily to just one of four kinds of unsolved problems, those which require a previous solution being repeated [:Sp] – i.e., learning what is already known. Focus on circumstantial change, as noted above, is not the only way to neglect the other kinds of unsolved problems. Learning focuses on the behavioral solution [: Sbeh], with some reference to situational problems [Psit] but nothing directed to the behavioral problem [Pbeh] –excepting the deportment and industry of the student. The resultant imbalance is at odds with the learning x knowing dynamic – and risks neglect of their complementarity, interdependence and even risks potential trauma [e.g., cycling between hard and soft regimes of instruction].)

Morris Janowicz put this matter very succinctly some 50 years ago in a lunchtime discussion arranged by Wilbur Schramm for (who then were) doctoral students and younger faculty. What we need, he said, are better dependent variables. He was addressing at that time a research deficiency in the field of communication effects. But his point applies at least as well to practices as problems as it does to propositions as questions. The deficiency is what EHAC works to correct: the incomplete and sometimes inaccurate utilization of consequentiality. EHAC is very pragmatic, in method and in theory.

We might add here that we have also been too dependent on criterion variables as dependent variables, those terminal consequences which were our goals, objectives, ends et al. Pragmatism applies as much to the effecting as it does to the effects. And when there are many consequences to be observed during the process of effecting, emphasis on a criterial variable may be ill-advised (e.g., premature). (Also note the potentially relevant, to further process development, off-diagonal cells in cross-tabulations used to test a hypothesis about a criterial effect.)

All operating systems involved (aka stakeholders) have the opportunity with EHAC’s supportive, helpful approach to develop their common sense further, beyond this or that as a well-established solution, to an appreciation of the full panoply of problem solving, from needs (especially the behavioral problem, :Pbeh) to composing’s ATIT demands for operating systems in general.

=> A cautionary note: With losses and damages such as consequences of personal and social discomfort (e.g., insults, embarrassment) likely to occur, there is the potential for accident as an interpretation to be abused. (As it has been with respect to traffic incidents involving losses and damages.) Harassment comes to mind. Circumstances then come into play. Is the behavior a repeated condition? Was there a prior (initiating?) agreement about behavioral tolerance? (Whether one “knew what they were getting into” does not seem appropriately criterial.)

There is, however, the possibility of an a priori understanding of the EHAC perspective, and participation in its utilization, with the expectation that continuing reports will be received and reviewed. That possibility may well have a salubrious effect.

(c) 2011 R. F. Carter