#TheGouge: What is the Normalization of Deviance? with Gareth Lock

Gareth alerts us to the natural tendency of organizations and individuals to set baselines and gradually deviate from them over time.

Hey, welcome to #TheGouge with Ponch and Cujo. I'm Ponch, and I’m here today with Gareth Lock, and today we’re talking about the normalization of deviance.

So, normalization of deviance is a term put together by Diane Vaughan following the Challenger crash and the explosion, looking at the deviation that happens within organizations and at an individual level that we gradually drift over time. And we set new baselines and gradually deviate from those.

And the easiest way is if I use my hands and basically say, right, we’re going to set some baselines here. This is what the rules, and the process, things like that we have. Over time, we have a natural tendency to drift. And this becomes the new normal baseline. And then we sit in there and operate there and nothing goes wrong and then we drift a little bit more. And then we drift a little bit more and we drift a little bit more. And then all of a sudden, it goes bang. And people go, but hang on a minute. You went from here to here. What was going on? And we went no, no, no, I was only going from here to here. And it’s this natural tendency to drift. Either through innovation or because we’re not keeping ourselves accountable as we go through that. And that is a natural tendency. So, it’s good to innovate through that point of view.

But drift and debriefing, which is where, you know, after action reviews, and having effective debriefs can understand that actually that drift there may be innovation or that drift there may be deviation that we need to bring ourselves back to. So, it is really important to understand that normalization of deviance is normal. And, you know, I joke about it, it’s normal to be a deviant from that point of view.

Awesome. And, folks, that’s the gouge on the normalization of deviance.


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