Crew (or Cockpit) Resource Management (CRM) training originated from a NASA workshop in 1979 that focused on improving air safety. The NASA research presented at this meeting found that the primary cause of the majority of aviation accidents was human error, and that the main problems were failures of interpersonal communication, leadership, and decision making in the cockpit.
CRM training encompasses a wide range of knowledge, skills and attitudes including communications, situational awareness, problem solving, decision making, and teamwork; together with each of the sub-disciplines that each of these areas entail.
Why are we using this aviation based system to produce election results? At the Registrar of Voters CRM can be defined as a management system which makes optimum use of all available resources – equipment, procedures and people – to promote quality, to ensure accuracy and to enhance the efficiency of election operations.
CRM at the Registrar of Voters is concerned not so much with the technical knowledge and skills required to produce election results but rather with the cognitive and interpersonal skills needed to manage the operations within an organized election system. In this context, cognitive skills are defined as the mental processes used for gaining and maintaining situational awareness, for solving problems and for making decisions. Interpersonal skills are regarded as communications and a range of behavioral activities associated with teamwork.
In aviation, as in election operations, these skill areas often overlap with each other, and they also overlap with the required technical skills.
CRM training, required by the Federal Aviation Administration for flight crews, has been enhanced and developed by major airlines and military aviation worldwide. CRM training has expanded and is now used in hospitals, oil refineries and marine transport. Southwest Airlines and the National Transportation Safety Board have participated in our CRM training sessions. We have been able to incorporate many of the same practices used by these organizations. We are the first County agency to employ CRM and the first election office in the United States to use this unique management technique.