It was this week in 1912, that the RMS Titanic sank – one the most drastic and tragic incident that took place in the waters on 15th April 1912. With more than 1,500 people becoming a victim of poor standard operational measures, the incident will always be remembered as a failure of management and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
It is a known fact that Titanic was warned various times before its sail about sea ice, but no one really cared. Apart from this, the ship continued to sail near to its maximum speed ignoring all the warnings by other vessels, before the lookouts spotted the iceberg in the trajectory of the ship. Furthermore, more lives could have been saved if resources life jackets and life boats would have been efficiently used as per the safety measures.
In one of the lesser known accounts, it looks for all the world like an ordinary key but an unremarkable piece of metal could have saved the Titanic from disaster. It is thought to have fitted the locker that contained the crow’s nest binoculars, vital in detecting threats to the liner lurking in the sea in the pre-sonar days of 1912.
Catastrophically for the Titanic and the 1,500+ lives lost with her, the key’s owner, Second Officer David Blair, was removed from the crew at the last minute and in his haste forgot to hand it to his replacement.
Without access to the glasses, the lookouts in the crow’s nest were forced to rely on their eyes and only saw the iceberg when it was too late to take action. One, Mr. Fred Fleet, who survived the disaster, later told the official inquiry into the tragedy that if they had had binoculars they would have seen the obstacle sooner.
Had a proper handover SOP or Standard Operating Procedure been followed, it could have been significant in this accident to save the ship and the 1,500 lost lives. SOP is a step by step guide with instructions compiled to assist and facilitate the operators in carrying out a complex or difficult task and routine operations. Through SOPs one can create a full proof system and can build efficiencies along with the controls. SOPs also add uniformity to the procedures and standardize them for error free environment while reducing the chances of mishappenings. It also improves communication between the departments and reduces the chances of miscommunication.
In the incident of world’s largest and claimed unsinkable ship gloating down to the seabed with over a 1,500 people on board, a precise handover SOP module could have acted as an anchor for the Titanic to stop the mishap. Below are the few key pointers that if taken care of could save such tragic incidents from happening again.
Why-Why analysis – A why-why analysis is a very efficient method to ask oneself about the problems and identify the root cause of those problems. It allows one to track the footprints and get a detailed analysis of the mistakes that led to the project being unsuccessful. It also helps the company in gathering data which can be very useful for the organization in change management processes.
Detailed set of procedures – A detailed set of procedures can regulate the panic among the workforce in case of an adverse situation. A standardized set of instructions to be followed in critical situations will not only guide the people to rally themselves to face the situation but will also help them in procurement of the solutions and strategies to tackle the problems and obstacles.
Muda Management – Muda refers to waste and is the mother of all inefficiencies. A proper waste management system along with efficient controls and systems can help one in getting rid of the discrepancies in the systems and establish a more propounding process that can ultimately add value to the project or the organization.
The RMS Titanic could have saved by implementing a well-devised SOP. Similarly, SOPs have a very imperative role to play in any organization and could really help them in maintaining the order and systems.
Written & Compiled By Faber Kishlay & Faber Mayuri