Human Performance Principles

Many are aware of the current thinking around “Safety Differently” and the five principles of human performance. Principles are intended to be innately true and are the fundamental framework in which newer views of human performance hang their philosophies and processes. The five principles are generally understood to be:

  • Error is normal. Even the best people make mistakes.
  • Blame fixes nothing.
  • Learning and improving is vital. Learning is deliberate.
  • Context influences behavior. Systems drive outcomes.
  • How you respond to failure matters. How leaders act and respond counts.

I’ve spent a lot of time working in this space and these principles are spot on — each one addressing a critical aspect of the philosophy and science behind them. But if I could contribute anything to this growing field, I would add a sixth principle of human performance: Teams achieve more. Teamwork creates synergies that cannot be realized independently.

There’s a ton of great science and literature behind the fundamental value of teamwork and cooperation — Gestalt psychology and Google’s Project Aristotle are some fun reads. The whole concept that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, while misattributed to Aristotle, is almost poetic in its simplicity. To me, the necessity and benefits of teamwork are as fundamental as things get, and so deserves the title of “Sixth Principle”. Let me know what you think!


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