Focus on Reliability

Destination: Where?


Where do you want to go today? Along those lines, I was recently headed to the airport to fly off to a client site on the west coast where I was to provide Planner coaching services. On the interstate, I passed a tractor-trailer rig headed south. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught some lettering across the rear of the sleeper section of the cab which read “Destination: Excellence “. What a neat concept!

This was not a huge corporation providing a vision. This was an owner-operator (at most a 2 person driving team) that had enough foresight to challenge themselves and proudly display their personal vision to improve their business. How many of you have personal goals like this?

When I step into many organizations, there is no road-map. Every day brings a new destination, from being led down the path of reactive chaos. Change can begin with you and within your span of control. Even small changes build toward the greater good.

Separately, I was in another site a week later. The manager asked me to help them develop a document detailing what the end state or vision should look like for that particular organization regarding their implementation of the Best Practices. He was basically asking, “What is the destination?” so that he could sell the organization on the end game. What is yours? What is your organization’s regarding the Best Practices for Maintenance, Operations, or Reliability?

Once you understand where you want to go, the end game; then you must determine the gaps that are preventing you from getting there. In our world, you might recognize that as an assessment and gap analysis. Many groups already have done this. If you haven’t and need help, send me an email. However recognize the real answer is having a Plan of Improvement or strategic road-map to help you reach the destination mile by mile, month by month. This is where most consulting and corporate reliability groups let you down when you perform an assessment and gap analysis. You already know many gaps or distances to cover yourself. What you don’t know is how to get to the destination. That’s where a strategic road-map comes into play. I see tons of groups with assessments and NO plan.

So, I’ll ask you again. What is your destination? How are you getting there? Where is your plan?


Need help developing a plan?  Join us at a Maintenance and Reliability for Managers: 4-Part Series public session or bring it onsite.

Creating Partnerships


One of the biggest challenges that I find most organizations struggling with is the creation of real partnerships with shared common goals as opposed to competing objectives. Most organizations function with the illusion of partnerships. A better term to use and one that most would recognize is "silos".  

When you hear maintenance people making comments like “I never have the materials, information, or time to do my job right.”, you should question if real partnerships exist. The same goes when an operator comments that “Maintenance never responds when we call" or In the last three hour changeover, maintenance was nowhere to be found. Why did they not use that time to do so PM's and corrective work?". 

Recognize that as Maintenance and Operations, together you control total roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of the site population. While a site leadership team exists to implement corporate strategy and other items, Maintenance and Operations need to partner to talk about how you run the day-to-day operations of the plant.

Create a team, meeting twice a month with Maintenance and Operations stakeholders. That gives each of you an opportunity to educate each other on each function's wants and needs as related to best practices. Engage people at the lowest levels on the plant floor to get buy-in. This is one more approach to end the blame game and move the total site reliability forward.

The One-Two Punch

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Realize that leading people is a contact sport. I recently participated in a podcast and was asked a question on how the company name of People and Processes came to be. Across multiple sites, I either directly or indirectly reported to an engineer that ultimately became a plant manager. Ken was very much a people person, and over the years, I learned a tremendous amount from him. He taught me the value of leading others and seeing things from their perspective. Ken used a phase called “ways of working” related to the business processes and roles. When things did not go as planned, he always went back to the process, the way of working. The business name fit the solutions that we provide. It is about the people and the processes.

Back to the contact sport statement, I visit organizations almost every week that struggle with the basics. While business processes may exist, people aren’t leveraging them for a lot of different reasons. It’s not uncommon to find duplication of efforts. It seems every day is a new day as the struggles repeat themselves. Most sites don’t audit their processes to see what is not working and to determine improvements. Getting your processes right is the first step, the first impact. To do that, you need to involve people as they buy-in to what they help create.

The second punch is defining your people’s roles and responsibilities. These duties come from business processes. When determining the roles, there are specific spans of control or ratios. For example, a planner scheduler may plan for 20-30 technicians depending on the maturity of the processes in action. These roles, combined with the spans of control, determine the organizational structure.

Once you get people in the roles, don’t forget the training aspect. Funny how some people believe that if you train people, they might leave. I always like to counter with “what if they stay?”. Coaching people in their role is the next logical step in their development, beginning about thirty days after the initial training. It typically takes two to three coaching sessions to demonstrate a level of competency. In our coaching activities, we have developed competency evaluation forms for each position, and we review those with the people being coached. I find that most people are eager to improve their knowledge and abilities. Each coaching visit enables the opportunity for increased understanding and more importantly, ownership and pride. Accountability brings clarity.

Don’t allow every day to be a new day. Employ the one-two punch to bring that clarity.

Need help? All of these concepts and much more are integrated into our award-winning Maintenance and Reliability for Managers 4-Part Series. Get started soon, either at a public course or bring it onsite.