New virtual Centre to drive organisational and leadership excellence

15 February 2024

Organisational improvement and leadership expertise from across The University of Queensland (UQ) will be focused on improving outcomes for all sectors, including industry and government, through a new virtual Centre hosted by the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI).

The Leading for High Reliability Centre (LHRC) will expand and apply an understanding of High Reliability Organisational (HRO) principles to improve performance across areas such as safety and health, sustainability, and environmental management.

The Centre will be overseen by a multidisciplinary Steering Committee, coordinated by SMI’s Leadership and Organisational Improvement Program head, Susan Johnston.

“We know that organisational failures underpin many accidents and disasters, and can also stymie the achievement of improvement initiatives,” Susan said.

“Inadequate communication, insufficient collaboration, conflicting priorities, silos, ineffective leadership and a lack of a shared sense of purpose are just a few of the issues that can undercut good intentions.

“At the LHRC we plan to use our knowledge of what makes some organisations more highly reliable than others to assist organisations to make the real, substantive changes that will ensure consistent, effective, delivery against their goals.

“Integral to achieving these goals is the LHRC Steering Committee, which includes leading psychologists Professors Jolanda Jetten and Alex Haslam, innovation management and leadership expert Professor Tim Kastelle, and experienced mining industry researchers Professor Claire Cote and Professor Maureen Hassall.

“Our vision is for the LHRC to become a global leader in the advancement and application of HRO practices.

“With that in mind, the LHRC team will be working closely with industry to provide them with the necessary knowledge, skills and tools to unlock organisational effectiveness.

“It will also be advancing the field through leading research, which will ensure our services – whether it is high-level analyses, assessments, advice, or planning – are informed by the latest information.”

Researchers within the LHRC have already developed the ‘HRO Diagnostic Assessment methodology’, which is currently being deployed in industry to assess organisational reliability.

SMI Director Professor Rick Valenta said the Centre’s focus on applied research and improving industry outcomes makes it a valuable addition to the Institute, and the University.

“We are mindful that the mining industry operates in high-risk contexts, and that organisational failures can have significant consequences for workers, environments, and communities.

“Addressing the issues that are at the heart of these failures means SMI is not just providing industry with benefits, but also society more broadly.”