We are The Trajectories Company

Trajectories makes risk visible

→ Things go wrong.

Despite diligence, broad awareness of best practices, heavy investments in training and staff development, thoughtful and reflective policy development, and astute system design, things go wrong.

Trajectories helps you see how, where, and why they go wrong…
…and helps fix them.

Things go wrong.  Despite diligence, broad awareness of best practices, heavy investments in training and staff development, thoughtful and reflective policy development, and astute system design, things go wrong.

Trajectories, by making risk visible, identifies what can go wrong, how it can go wrong, and, most importantly, how to prevent it from going wrong and causing harm.  Employing human factors and systems engineering, behavioral economics, neuroscience, internal subject matter expertise, and focus group facilitation, we guide clients to examine and redesign their processes, systems, and culture with results they can quantify and trust.

A Trajectories engagement focuses on specific processes or outcomes, rigorously analyzing them to identify all the ways in which failures can occur.  The evaluation may yield hundreds or even thousands of hypothetical pathways (aka, trajectories) that are individually examined to calculate failure risks and uncover system weaknesses.  Each trajectory that can lead to an undesired outcome is redesigned and fitted with sufficient defenses, as well as precursor and mitigation strategies, when possible, to avert or at least greatly reduce the likelihood of that outcome.

The Trajectories Company complements the work of The Just Culture Company, helping organizations in high-consequence industries, such as healthcare, commercial aviation, heavy rail, power utility, and emergency response, manage the risks inherent in their operations.  Such organizations have an imperative to prevent adverse outcomes, since those adverse outcomes are what characterizes them as high-consequence.  Bluntly stated: Trajectories exists to help organizations not kill their key constituencies – their workforce and their customers.

Most organizational systems are socio-technical in nature; they are comprised of both human and technical elements, and subject to failure from both human and technical causes.  Recognizing that people working in these systems are innately fallible and can exercise free will, The Just Culture Company focuses on workplace accountability for choices, errors, consequences, and management practices, i.e., the human elements of socio-technical systems.

The Trajectories Company uniquely addresses system complexity and process failure through robust, detailed risk analysis and methods redesign, while also accounting for inevitable human fallibility and bad choices.  Together, Just Culture and Trajectories improve reliability, safety, workforce engagement, and organizational success.

Process Redesign that Succeeds
Reduction in Mislabeled Specimens 91%

MIXED-UP blood specimens can cause serious patient harm, even death, and expose hospitals and healthcare providers to expensive and punitive malpractice liability. Trajectories was used to prevent incorrect specimen labeling across the state of South Carolina.

Utility & power
Reduction in accidents 82%

HAZARDS in the field take lives, damage equipment, and result in regional power outages. Critical behaviors and improved communication practices can reduce these events, but that’s not enough. Trajectories identified specific steps to make the field safer for crews and to make the power grid more reliable.

Reduction in Ground Damage Mishaps 91%

PLAGUED by mishaps, damage to aircraft, and injuries to crew members, not all sectors of commercial aviation are equally safe and reliable. Using Trajectories, airport personnel have dramatically reduced the mishap rate involving ground crews.

Risk Registers: Priorities & Accountability

Rail is one of the safest forms of transportation. Yet, despite its impressive safety record, the industry is preoccupied with concerns about risk and injuries. On an annual basis, several rail systems around the world undergo an exercise to predict all the risks they anticipate encountering and all the harm they anticipate occurring in the course of doing business.

The work product, called a Risk Register, includes a profoundly interesting feature: it compares all risks in terms of predicted equivalent fatalities, accounting for injuries, as well as deaths. Doing so enables rail systems to prioritize their risk mitigation efforts in the proper order. An excerpted portion of a sample risk register appears above.

In some cases, the report is shared with regulators, government officials, and the public. How’s that for driving accountability, industry-wide learning, and public trust?

What could you learn from a risk register created specifically for your organization?

How We Work With You

Concern for Your Organization

We are committed to being of service to industries with risks they cannot abate.

Concern for your constituency

We care about your people – team members, customers, clients, patients, and community – and bank our success on our ability to sense and respect their needs.

Support for Your

We seek to learn and understand your values and, to the best of our ability, work to preserve them as we help solve your challenges.

Measurable Results We stand behind

Confident in our approach, when we take on a project, we guarantee our predicted improvement results.

A Deeper Look

Humans and technology interacting and working together comprise what is known as a socio-technical system.  A concept first recognized during World War II, when pilots crashed their fighter jets because aeronautical engineers had little understanding of human limitations in the cockpit environment, it sparked the study of human interactions with technical systems.  Technology, of course, has continued to advance and permeate all aspects of society, making it ever more crucial to understand and optimize humans’ working relationship with technology.  The best-designed socio-technical systems consider human capabilities and limitations, accounting for human fallibility and free will.

Systems and processes are designed to produce specific, desired results.  All too often, though, inherent in those designs, are opportunities for failure that can propagate to yield undesired results.  To achieve high reliability, an organization must structure itself around highly reliable processes and systems.  Therefore, a detailed understanding of critical processes, along with all the potential for failure, is a fundamental requirement.

Recognizing that human performance in areas such as cognitive capacity, decision-making, and conscious awareness greatly impact the effectiveness of socio-technical systems, researchers at The Trajectories Company spent two years reviewing the neuroscience, philosophy, behavioral economics, and human factors literature to discover ways to consider them into system design work.  Factors such as lack of situational awareness, cognitive overload, and inattention blindness, often pegged as performance failures that led to undesired outcomes, are, in fact, normal limitations on human processing ability and likely not individual performance aberrations.  To operate a robust, resilient socio-technical system, its design must account for humans’ natural limitations, as well as respect for the workforce’s abilities and its earnest attempts to approach perfection.

Pretty much any activity that can be described as a process that yields unreliable and/or undesired outcomes is amenable to, and worth the investment in, a Trajectories redesign engagement.  Projects typically focus on improving a specific process or system, to avert undesired outcomes.  Ideally, the organization considering a Trajectories engagement should be familiar with the principles of just culture and have already formally adopted them.  Just culture provides a standardized, comprehensive framework to address the full array of workplace behaviors, including human error, risky and bad decisions, and other deviations from prescribed conduct, which Trajectories incorporates into its system and process redesign.