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FORMAL CONDITIONERS: GOMS, SOPS, SMS The formal conditioners of an organization’s culture are found in


the program’s published mission statement, in their General Operation Manual and other written policies, and in the documentation of their formal safety management system. In terms of the old expression, ‘Walk your Talk’, the formal elements of our cultures are the ‘Talk’. Actual day- to-day behavior is the ‘Walking’ part of the expression. In many ways, this behavior may be influenced more by certain informal cultural con- ditioners than by the formal ones.


INFORMAL CULTURAL CONDITIONERS One of the greatest informal influences on culture is the manner


in which executives and managers communicate their priorities to mem- bers of the flight team. Notwithstanding a clear emphasis on safety in the formal elements of the program, if the messages from managers place undue emphasis on flight volumes, liftoff response times, or “meeting the competition head-on”, then team members may feel pressure to push themselves to satisfy those perceived priorities. Another informal cul- tural derives from an individual manager’s personal style of communi- cating and relating to other members of the organization. An excessive- ly steep authority gradient between managers and staff may


two-way communication that is essential to safe operations. In some business models of air medical provider organizations, the


mixed-messages that are received from managers are due to the fact that they are required to report to and receive direction from higher level managers who have a limited appreciation of the risks inherent in flight operations. Decisions and policies that have an influence on aviation safety must be made at a level that understands and supports opera- tional safety. Corporate fiscal or HR officers may not always give prop- er consideration to safety in their analysis of, and demands on, the flight program’s operations. Pressure to get the job done may also be generated at the level of the individual flight crewmembers.


Pilots and medical crewmembers


alike tend to be Type-A personalities who possess a high level of per- sonal desire to perform in an exceptional manner. We must also recognize that time pressures and a pre-disposition


to get the job done are built in to the fabric of the air medical trans- port industry. Patients of all ages and descriptions with a critical need for rapid transportation rely on these providers to get them to the facil- ity that can best relieve their suffering, or save their lives. Although vir- tually all flight programs tell their crewmembers that the circumstances


hinder the


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