I recently had the unique opportunity to have coffee with Gene Bellinger in an often-unknown coastal city called Kill Devil Hills, NC (the site of the first flight of Wilbur and Orville Wright). I vacation there and Gene lives there, so I seized the opportunity to connect with him. Gene is an American organizational theorist, systems thinker, and consultant, known for his work on systems thinking and knowledge management. While I have made a career in the Reliability Engineering and Root Cause Analysis (RCA) space for nearly 40 years, I have always linked systems thinking and knowledge management to their success. This perspective is not always shared in our industries, as well as by many in academia/research.
This was a primary reason I got more involved with The Community of Human and Organizational Learning (CHOLearning), to help strengthen the link between the physical sciences and the social sciences, as well as narrow the gaps in their understanding of each other.
Our discussion involved the perceived linearity of traditional ‘RCA’ as opposed to system modeling. This involves getting into complexity, circular logic, human reasoning, and organizational systems. We also talked about applying RCA and systems thinking to ‘failures’ as opposed to proactively applying them to reduce risk via system design. In the end, whether using RCA or systems thinking models, it all boils down to the effective understanding of relationships…no matter the tool you use to express them!!
When I was listening to one of Gene’s musings (video snippets), he was explaining why he became a Storyteller. He came to a point in his career where he recognized that writing papers and showing system’s models were interesting to his peers, but not to the people who would actually benefit from using them. I could relate to that ‘glazed’ look when I get into the weeds of RCA and talk about the physics of failure and the social science knowledge necessary to understand human reasoning. So, Gene started framing this information in the form of stories, which tend to stick in people’s minds and make them interesting and memorable. I will move in that direction myself as a result of meeting Gene.
As an FYI, Gene will be presenting a webinar for CHOL entitled Insight: Trial & Learning, on January 27, 2022 at 10:30a ET.
I encourage my friends who have an interest in RCA, systems thinking, knowledge management and system’s dynamics to subscribe to Gene’s SystemsWiki’s Musings. Once you meet Gene, you’ll think you’ve known him for a long time. He is easy going, non-judgmental and very logical in his thought processes. I want to thank Gene for taking the time to meet with me while I was in OBX.”
About the Author: Bob Latino, Principal at Prelical Solutions, LLC.
Mr. Latino is an internationally recognized author, trainer, software developer, lecturer and practitioner of best practices in the field of Reliability Engineering and specifically in Root Cause Analysis & Investigation Management.
Robert J. Latino has been facilitating RCA & FMEA analyses with his clientele around the world for over 35 years and has taught over 10,000 students in the PROACT® RCA Methodology. Mr. Latino is co-author of numerous books, seminars and workshops on FMEA, RCA & Reliability, as well as co-designer of Plant Engineering Magazine’s PRODUCT OF THE YEAR in 1998, 2000 and 2011 - The PROACT® Investigation Management System.