A couple of months ago, I visited an organization that had just started an initiative to reduce their spend on spare parts. The odd thing about this initiative was that it was driven by finance and procurement. The focus was on cutting the price they paid for these spare parts. When I asked why this initiative had started, I was told that someone in finance felt that their procurement practices weren’t what they should be. They believed that there was opportunity to cut costs through better management of the process.
How many times have you walked around a hardware store or a kitchen store and seen a tool or implement that just made you shake your head and say to yourself ‘Wow if I’d had that when I tried to do…………………………….. life would have been so much easier!’
Recently I was facilitating a leadership seminar with a group of maintenance and reliability leaders. Everyone had finally agreed that, to improve performance, there had to be change, because as Albert Einstein said “If you do the same things every day and expect different results then that’s the definition of insanity!’. This led us to a discussion around perhaps the most maligned and forgotten management tool available – Change Management. We had an interesting discussion that got a little heated when I suggested that Change was really easy – you simply stop doing one thing and start doing another. The group was a little puzzled as to why I would bring up the topic as being much maligned and then tell them it was easy. That was until I explained that the difficult part of Change Management is the transition of behaviours from the old way to the new way – getting the transition, and so the behaviours you want, is the challenge. I used a work order as an example of what I was saying – if the goal is to change from paper work orders to electronic work orders – the change is fairly simple – you stop using paper work orders! The transition may not be so easy – when you used paper work orders the tradespeople would give great feedback and suggestions on the work order and allowed for continuous improvement but after the change to electronic all you get is ‘complete’ on the bottom of the form. Is that the behavior that you wanted – if not – what went wrong? We talked about the many reasons why the transition didn’t turn out the way we wanted and suggested that things like aging workforce who didn’t have confidence on the computer, people not understanding the benefit of the new system or being part of the development of the new system might have come into play.
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