CRM and the Power of One

December 12, 2010 |  by

What fuels the power of one? Courage, boldness and taking initiative all come to mind. But what if we had systems that actually encouraged it? CRM is doing exactly that.

Crew Resource Management (CRM) began as a safety initiative for the airlines. Pilots were making errors and weren’t being challenged. Said one Southwest pilot in Sway: “There was a time when the captain was almighty…almost godlike. Everyone else was scared to overrule him and wouldn’t open their mouths.”

CRM challenges the “don’t question, do as is done,” mentality of mass mind. “Crew members are taught to speak up when their superior officer is about to make a mistake,” write the Brafmans. And the captain is trained to accept – even encourage – feedback. CRM users now include firefighters, operating rooms and nuclear power plants.

There’s even a 5-step CRM process:

  • Attention getter: address the individual
  • State your concern
  • State the problem as you see it
  • State a solution
  • Obtain agreement: “Does that sound good to you?”

It doesn’t have to be so formal, of course. Sometimes a spontaneous remark is the most effective. The point is: it’s a training in the power of one. The more “speaking up” becomes “part of the plan,” the more we know we’re making progress.


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