‘Avoiding Catastrophe’ is the civilian offshoot of the HCD program developed for the Air Force. HCD seeks to ‘minimise the risk of catastrophic error’ in military decision making, above all ‘shoot, don’t shoot’ decisions.
HCD is based on four years research, soon to be published in a book, which looks at decision making from an organisational perspective. It is above all a management program, for leaders, commanders, executives, who have subordinates making life or death decisions. The objective of the program is to set up these decisions for success rather than failure.
The principles behind HCD also apply in civilian contexts. Many of them are drawn from commercial settings where the consequences of error can also be catastrophic – air traffic control, the operation of nuclear power plants, emergency services for example. ‘Avoiding Catastrophe’ now seeks to offer managers the benefits of the HCD program, transferring its insights into the kind of decision making environments that pose potentially catastrophic outcomes in the shape of irreversible damage to an organisation or its mission.