Tom Cruise as Kaffee in the movie “A few good men” asks a very pertinent question during the argument over the written procedure of the code red. He asks Cpl Barnes to turn to the page in the SOP book that tells them how to get to the mess hall to which Cpl Branes replies that it’s not in the book! Kaffee then replies ” You mean the whole time at Gitmo, you’ve never had a meal?”. Cpl Barnes replies “No, Sir. Three squares a day, Sir.”
Standing Operating Procedure
SOP, also called Standing Operating Procedure, is a set of written guidelines or instructions for the completion of a routine task. SOP increases performance, improve efficiency and ensure quality through systemic homogenization. The term was first recorded in the mid-20th century.
SOPs are utilized in various contexts by a vast array of entities, including those in the areas of business, education, government, health care, industry, and the military. Although categorical variations are inevitable, all SOPs have in common the systematization of the individual steps performed in the implementation of a repetitive task to create an overall quality system. SOPs first identify and summarize a task, describe its purpose, and specify when and by whom it is to be performed while simultaneously defining uncommon or specialized terms and addressing potential concerns (e.g., necessary equipment or supplies, health and safety cautions, etc.). They then describe the sequential procedures to be followed, often utilizing activity checklists and graphic illustrations (e.g., charts, tables, photographs, diagrams, etc.) to help ensure that the procedures are being performed accurately and in order.
SOPs can also provide many other benefits, such as minimizing the chance of miscommunication, affording comparability, and ensuring regulatory compliance. The disadvantages of SOPs include excessive paperwork and a reduction in workplace individuality.
A practice is a routine which complies with the policies but is not as detailed as a procedure and is usually not written down in manuals or other documents. It is a customary action, habit, or behavior; a manner or routine. Not every action can be documented as a procedure but good to do things become unwritten good practices. These can be imbibed through training or could be cultural. “This is the way we do things here” is a common sentence which is usually heard during training. The practice is also a natural or a logical extension or an expansion of the procedure, the minimum steps of which are written down in the SOP.
To sum up, SOP is the minimum required for safe operation, but the in-depth knowledge of which is essential for a seasoned aviator to decide the circumstances in which they can be bypassed, keeping in the loop the affected stakeholder. These are extraordinary circumstances where the SOP does not qualify to be implemented. Good or safe practices are a set of actions which fill up the majority of the areas where there is a need to maintain consistency to ensure seamless implementation of the procedures. Most of the time good practices are followed and a great deal of discipline and self-righteous behavior is needed. It is imperative for trainers to have consistency in implementing good practices.