Normalized Drift

Normalized Drift is a phenomenon that is the most universal cause of serious and catastrophic events. The concept “normalization of deviance” was coined by Diane Vaughan following nine years of studying NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. The concept is not complex, but nonetheless a widely misunderstood set of risks that, unless abated with resolve, can rise to extremes. These insidious risks grow over time, making them hard to find, and easy to ignore, especially when they become a natural feature of organizational culture.

Allied Safety has developed a set of “Normalized Drift Error Traps” that can easily be learned—mitigation of these traps is quite a bit tougher. Some of these “Drift Traps” are inadvertently allowed—the most prominent of which is “poor accountability”, as shown on this graph. The greater the Drift, the greater the risk and failure potential. ASA teaches 10 Normalized Drift Traps. Unless, and until, these latent organizational weaknesses (LOW) are learned, hunted down, and destroyed, safety and organizational excellence cannot be achieved!