marchapril2021 - 26

AUTHOR Walker Jaroch


Tribal Knowledge
Workers often develop personal ways of operating
on a job. While these norms are functional, they
are not always safe, with organizations at risk if
the unwritten rules overtake the official.

TRIBAL KNOWLEDGE takes its name from before
humans had written language and information
could only be shared with a tribe orally. The concept
has become something of a thorn in the side of
present-day businesses. While oral traditions and
unwritten rules are inescapable human tendencies,
that does not mean the practices are without
In safety-critical environments,
knowledge must be shared accurately
with the latest protocols and proper
training behind it; so when it's time for
action, people aren't operating on what
they think the " norms " are.
It's these norms that Keith Clark,
quality control and technical support
rep, Phillips 66 Aviation, said tribal
knowledge on the ramp becomes
cemented into.
" Some people would describe tribal
knowledge as 'norms,' which is one of
the 12 human factors. Practices that can
develop over time can be both good and
bad, safe and unsafe; they are referred
to as 'the way we do things round here'
and become norms, " Clark described.
He continued that because aviation
is such a constantly shifting industry, the
norms of yesterday may not be relevant
today. It requires ongoing education and
training to keep up with the latest. But as
Clark warned, not every employee may
be willing or able to do that.
" Some veteran employees in the
industry might be too set in their ways

and lack ongoing education and training,
and they fail to realize that they're doing
something incorrectly, " Clark says.
If this employee is then in charge
of teaching new or younger employees,
the cycle continues as they spread the
potentially harmful tribal knowledge to
those who may not know any better.
" Because of that, I worry about
somebody with 30 years just like I
worry about someone with six months
experience, " Clark continues.
Michael France, NATA's managing
director of safety and training, echoed
Clark's concerns, adding: " The most
dangerous thing is when you release
your new employee out into the wild
and the old, grizzled veteran puts his
arm around him and says, 'look, let
me show you how we really do things
around here.' "
To combat the ease at which
misinformation can propagate via
tribal knowledge and norms, NATA
created the Safety 1st Training program,
which provides standardized training
and educational resources. Prior to the


inception of the program, France said
the tribal knowledge method was a
primary way of training.
" The experienced guy would relay
what he knew about fueling airplanes
and how the equipment worked and
so on, to the new hires. The company
might have some things written
down, but there wasn't this industrywide storehouse of information and
knowledge, " France said.
Having a collection of information
like the Safety 1st Training program
fights back against what France said
is one of the key dangers of tribal
knowledge - not knowing what
you don't know. In other words, an
organization can be ignorant of what
the norms have become and just what
knowledge it is that employees are
operating with, all the while assuming
everything is fine.
In hand with that is also the risk
of people hoarding the knowledge
they have in order to put themselves
in a position of power, France said.
And if this hoarded knowledge is
never shared or recorded in an official
capacity, an organization can lose it
forever when that employee leaves or



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of marchapril2021

The $7 Million Man
Industry Update
A New Normal in Airport Parking and Transportation
The Rise of Robots
Boarding Bridges the Holistic Way
A Brave New World
The Trouble with Tribal Knowledge
Doing it Right: Public Sector FBOs
Reconstructing One of New England's Longest Commericial Service Runways
Designing a Modern Lighthouse
Sensor Technology's One-Two Punch: Improving Winter Maintenance Operations and Meeting ICAO GRF Regulations
Caution: Closure Ahead
marchapril2021 - 1
marchapril2021 - 2
marchapril2021 - 3
marchapril2021 - 4
marchapril2021 - The $7 Million Man
marchapril2021 - Industry Update
marchapril2021 - 7
marchapril2021 - 8
marchapril2021 - 9
marchapril2021 - 10
marchapril2021 - 11
marchapril2021 - A New Normal in Airport Parking and Transportation
marchapril2021 - 13
marchapril2021 - The Rise of Robots
marchapril2021 - 15
marchapril2021 - 16
marchapril2021 - 17
marchapril2021 - Boarding Bridges the Holistic Way
marchapril2021 - 19
marchapril2021 - 20
marchapril2021 - 21
marchapril2021 - A Brave New World
marchapril2021 - 23
marchapril2021 - 24
marchapril2021 - 25
marchapril2021 - The Trouble with Tribal Knowledge
marchapril2021 - 27
marchapril2021 - 28
marchapril2021 - Doing it Right: Public Sector FBOs
marchapril2021 - 30
marchapril2021 - 31
marchapril2021 - Reconstructing One of New England's Longest Commericial Service Runways
marchapril2021 - 33
marchapril2021 - 34
marchapril2021 - 35
marchapril2021 - Designing a Modern Lighthouse
marchapril2021 - 37
marchapril2021 - Sensor Technology's One-Two Punch: Improving Winter Maintenance Operations and Meeting ICAO GRF Regulations
marchapril2021 - 39
marchapril2021 - Caution: Closure Ahead
marchapril2021 - 41
marchapril2021 - 42
marchapril2021 - 43
marchapril2021 - 44