Human Performance Improvement: One person’s experience

As mentioned in our last article, Human Performance Improvement is an often-misunderstood tool that individuals and organizations can use to make fundamental improvements in their processes. In the decade HPI has been active at Fermilab, countless individuals have applied its techniques to identify and correct issues within their projects and programs. One of these individuals is Joe Pygott.

Joe Pygott

Currently based in Lead, South Dakota, as part of the LBNF DUNE project, Pygott spent much of his career at the Batavia site, where he was first introduced to HPI. “When I took my first HPI class many years ago, it was a new concept to me, but one that has stuck with me throughout my career,” he said. “It taught me that behind every mistake, accident or even success, there is a human element; a way to analyze how a task was performed and where there is opportunity to improve performance.”

Pygott was exposed to HPI principles early in his Fermi career. “I started out in Roads and Grounds, and while the supervisors and managers didn’t always use the HPI terminology they did embrace the ideals and incorporated them into safety discussions and job planning. They talked about what went right and what went wrong with a certain job activity, and what could be done to avoid accidents or injuries and produce the desired results,” Pygott said.

“At the end of the day, the culture they set was about doing a good job and making sure we all got home to our families the same way we came to work,” he added. “There was always an opportunity to analyze results and look for ways to improve, not a mechanism to point blame or punish someone.”

Pygott admits HPI has a bit of a perception problem. “As a member of the HPI Subcommittee, I know not everyone at the lab sees the HPI Program as a good thing. For many there seems to be a negative connotation, where it is viewed as a way for management to pinpoint blame and responsibility. That certainly isn’t the case, and it’s our goal to create a consistent understanding of when and how to apply HPI principles across the lab.”

Despite the misconceptions, Pygott remains optimistic about HPI’s future at Fermilab. “I am certainly not an HPI expert, but I can tell you that it’s not a bad thing! No matter what your job is, there is always an opportunity to incorporate HPI principles to evaluate certain outcomes, whether formally or informally,” he said.

Interested in finding out what HPI can do for you? You can learn more by visiting the HPI website.