Critical incident technique is a method of gathering facts (incidents) from domain experts or less experienced users of the existing system to gain knowledge of how to improve the performance of the individuals involved.
The critical incident technique (CIT) is used to look for the cause of human-system (or product) problems to minimize loss to person, property, money or data. The investigator looks for information on the performance of activities (e.g. tasks in the workplace) and the user-system interface. Both operators and records (e.g. documented events or recorded telephone calls) can provide such information. The investigator may focus on a particular incident or set of incidents which caused serious loss. Critical events are recorded and stored in a database or on a spreadsheet. Analysis may show how clusters of difficulties are related to a certain aspect of the system or human practice. Investigators then develop possible explanations for the source of the difficulty.
The method generates a list of good and bad behaviors which can then be used for performance appraisal.