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“Who touched it last?” 

In this blog Kirsty McKinlay-Stewart covers a training course that one of our latest CRJ PartnersParadigm Human Performance Ltd invited her to attend.

The course was described as ‘an introduction to human performance’ and, given that I am an ever-increasing fan of this topic, to say I was keen to attend would be an understatement..

This event provided me with significant food for thought with regard to how we do things and also how we can make our organisations work that bit better. No matter what size your organisation, or what you do – if you include human beings in the mix – you need to consider Human Performance (HP).

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The attendees represented different organisations – some from health and safety in a traditional sense of the term, but others approached health and safety from a medical perspective. I believe I personally covered two camps – not only from a CRJ aspect, but also as previously having been a first responder – and I found myself thinking about the wider human performance facets and their part in critical events.

If we consider that research tells us ‘we’ make five mistakes per hour on average, some, including me, could actually make more than that. But, realistically, can we ignore this human factor anymore? 

There are many reasons for mistakes happening, and the blame can be traced not only to the individual responsible, or as Teresa Swinton put it – “who touched it last” – but also to flaws in the leadership of said human, or even the organisation itself. I found myself feeling like I had been a party to a new understanding or paradigm shift (see what I did there?) – and it was a good feeling.

Over the past two years with CRJ, I have been collecting knowledge about the wider crisis and disaster subject matter. We share incredible content from, dare I say, phenomenal people and we have an influence on how crisis professionals think in our collective area of business. Traditional prevention, mitigation and response set characteristics around crisis do have a firmly established set of activities and these are being improved as the years go by, through communication of learning and best practice. But I don’t often see HP being considered as a risk factor, or certainly not regarded as importantly as it should be.

I will continue to look more into this with Teresa and her team, but I am keen to raise the subject of the ‘human element’ in all areas of what we do – not only surrounding performance, but also taking into account the wider perspective with regard to crisis and how we deal with trauma and personal resilience. We have covered this topic in CRJ issues 13:413:3 and 13:2, and there will be more in the future.

One case study that Teresa Swinton discussed was the Alton Towers ‘Smiler’ ride incident that happened in the UK in 2015. At the Paradigm event we looked at this from a health and safety viewpoint, but in CRJ issue 13:3 we covered this incident from a first responder perspective. Both involved human beings, but the focus and discussion were different. It cemented for me that if we consider an incident, we will naturally default to our area of experience, and feel the emotion from that viewpoint. Never once had I considered the health and safety aspects while reading our article, crazy though that may sound.

We at CRJ Headquarters have been, and will continue to look at, the whole crisis sphere and assess from a neutral viewing platform to see how everything ‘fits’ in to the other parts of the crisis and disaster jigsaw. We share global learning that gets people thinking differently, discussing and considering factors that previously might have been overlooked – that is incredibly important in our mission to make things better.

If I can climb off my soapbox and return once more to Teresa and Paradigm HP, I would encourage you, as my blog reader, to consider the humans in your business and to use the expertise and learning that the Paradigm Team has collectively. You can attend events in a variety of locations, which I recommend, or get in contact directly with Teresa and discuss what Paradigm can do for you and your organisation.

To see Blogs by Teresa Swinton (formerly Teresa Mullen) on the subject of human performance go to the CRJ website. To contact Teresa and her team email her directly at or contact Mick Swinton and mention that you are one of the Crisis Response Journal network.

The CRJ is subscription only – to see the issues mentioned in this blog in more detail, subscribe via the link

Kirsty McKinlay-Stewart, 07/11/2018
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