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Beyond the purview of business process engineering and technological tools, the operational effectiveness of any organization depends on the attitudes and behavior of its people. The underlying values and beliefs – and how they are represented and reinforced through the processes and systems of the organization – define the operational culture. The quality of cohesion, adaptiveness, and resilience is predominantly determined by the strength of this culture.

USCG/PAC Tom Sperduto

Organizations and units operating under high-stress or high-risk conditions have long understood the relationship between operational culture and performance.  Most major accidents and performance problems can be traced to deficiencies in attitudes or behavior, which often point to a weak or dysfunctional culture.

Paradigms attempting to improve the cultural dimension of operations, such as Crew Resource Management (CRM) – which originated in business communications models of the 70s – and more recently Weick and Sutcliff’s High Reliability Organization (HRO), fall short. With a focus mainly on cognitive learning and process improvement, these approaches fail to generate comprehensive or lasting outcomes.Drawing from years of collaboration to enhance the operational effectiveness of response organizations, MCS has developed a construct to frame the attitudes and behaviors necessary for and characteristic of high-performing organizations.

This framework is an articulation of what MCS considers to be the essence of operational effectiveness: attitudes and beliefs that increase alignment with the mission while simultaneously promoting adaptiveness, cohesion, and resilience. This construct offers a target of what right looks like for comparing the organization’s current state with a meaningful standard. It also provides a starting point for establishing plans to shore up weaknesses and build on strengths to increase overall operational effectiveness.