Publication Date

5-2010

Abstract

{Excerpt} Organizations are often challenged to identify and resolve workplace problems. The Critical Incident technique gives them a starting point and a process for advancing organizational development through learning experiences. It helps them study “what people do” in various situations.

One might think there are no answers to the following questions: How fast can you think on your feet? How do you react in the face of the unexpected? How can you prepare if you cannot predict? And yet, there are.

Evidently, some behaviors contribute to the successor failure of individuals—and organizations—in specific situations. And so, responses to the unforeseen lie in identifying before the fact events or circumstances, or series of them, that are outside the range of ordinary human experiences.

The questions posed earlier are as old as mankind; but our ability to address them owes largely to the relatively recent work of John Flanagan. These days critical incidents can be harvested to provide a rich, personal perspective of life that facilitates understanding of the issues and obstacles people face every now and then and illuminates avenues for improvement (or replication if outcomes are effective)—avenues that may not be apparent through purely quantitative methods of data collection. This should matter to high-performance organizations.

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Suggested Citation

Serrat. O. (2010). The critical incident technique. Washington, DC: Asian Development Bank.

Required Publisher's Statement

This article was first published by the Asian Development Bank (www.adb.org)

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