Why the Human Factor is as Important as Your Technology

In 1979, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) held a workshop at which it presented research demonstrating that the root cause of most aircraft accidents was human error and worker performance relating to poor critical thinking, lack of leadership, and miscommunication. The presentation was a response to the crash of United Airlines Flight 173 in Portland, Oregon in 1978, in which a landing gear problem forced the crew to circle the airport prior to landing. The captain focused on the landing gear problem for over an hour, missing frequent communications from his crew that the fuel supply was running low. The captain only realized his lack of situational awareness moments prior to the plane running out of fuel and crashing only a few miles short of the runway. Two crew members and eight passengers were killed. 

NASA therefore developed the practice of crew resource management (CRM). CRM addresses the human factor in teams dedicated to performing complex, interrelated tasks in fast-paced, high-reliability environments. Aircraft flight crews, for whom CRM was initially developed, learn how to increase their situational awareness, critical thinking, teamwork, and communication to distribute the cognitive burden of complex tasks across the entire team and to respond to critical situations as they occur while remaining flexible enough to adapt to evolving situations. CRM has subsequently moved beyond the field of aviation and has been applied to the military, firefighting, railways, oil and gas, nuclear energy, and healthcare. According to research, CRM has been extremely effective in increasing situational awareness and teamwork in everyday tasks and emerging crisis situations. (Fisher 2000) 

As today’s organizations embrace the Internet of Things, analytics and data provide greater opportunities to improve CRM and overall organizational performance with enhanced situational awareness and data-driven decision making. In the new Intelex infographic Better Performance Through Technology and Crew Resource Management, you’ll learn about the following: 

  • How human behavior and technology work together for better CRM discipline. 
  • Why communication is fundamentally important for teams in everyday tasks and emerging crisis situations. 
  • How automation can make life easier for workers. 
  • How too much data can overwhelm workers and create poor performance. 
  • How Intelex safety management software can help your organization practice better CRM.

Learn more about CRM in the Intelex Insight Report Integrating Quality and Safety in Organizational Culture. 


Fisher, J., Phillips, E., & Mather, J. (2000). Does crew resource management training work? Air Medical Journal, 19(4), 137–139. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1067-991X(00)90006-3 

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