Number 10: When engaging with a consultant, ensure you ignore what they recommend. You're only paying them to advise you. After all, what is it they know that you don't already know?

Ideally, you have formed a partnership with your consultant and the total focus is on your organization's success. A wise person once told me if you can't solve a problem in three days, get someone from the outside to look at the issue, because you'll never solve it on your own. It requires a leap of faith to place your trust in "an outsider," but if you have chosen your partner wisely, mutual respect and trust can quickly be achieved and real results can happen. Remember, at the end of the day you've engaged with this individual to guide and advise you based on his/her knowledge and past experiences. More importantly the things you see and do every day are natural to you, but perhaps you can't see the forest through the trees... when they might be able to. We all need someone to come by and pull our heads out of the mud puddle and tell us which way they went once in a while.

Number 9: Only empower and engage a small number of employees. It's easier to manage and you won't have to deal with a large group trying to change and move too

If there was ever an adage that would fit nicely here it would be, "The more, the merrier." Engage all you can. Empower people to make a change. The key to successful change is to paint the picture of the future, give them the tools to get there, and reward for the right results. A change initiative was once described to me that it's like a big, long, fully loaded train. Once it gets up the steam and starts moving don't try to stop it, because you can't easily get it started again. The best thing one can do is to ensure the tracks are clear and the switches are set for the proper routing, and then enjoy the ride to the destination.

Number 8: Don't waste money on training people. There are tons of free books at the library that people can check out to obtain the necessary skills to improve their performance and knowledge.

Does anyone really think when we hire an employee that they have signed on with all the skills they will ever need for their tenure within the organization? Hopefully not, however, most organizations end up treating people that way. Evaluate your training program; if there isn't one, establish one. If not, you will always get what you have always gotten. Remember, all roles within the organization require some level of training to improve upon their fundamental skill sets. I heard a great saying somewhere along the way: "Remember, ignorance can be corrected through education; however, stupidity is forever."

Number 7: Ensure you tackle the easy problems first. Remember the easy stuff can be accomplished quickly, and it gives a great "false sense of security" that everything is easily accomplished.

Let's not fool ourselves. The easy things that are out there-well, most of them-have already been tackled. Go back to Number 10; consultants could be invaluable here. Remember, you partnered with them because of their knowledge and experience. This is where that pays off, and what's difficult for you to see and do may be broken down into easier steps with their guidance. I wasn't going to use the old "Eat the elephant one bite at a time" adage, but it just might fit here. Oh yea, bet you've heard this a few times too: "Nothing in life is easy . . . unless you work hard at achieving it."

Number 6: Do not develop a plan to guide your improvement efforts. It presents a visual reference that people can see. And remember, if they can see it, they can ask questions. It's a tool for management to hold you accountable for when there is no measurable progress. . . . Who needs that?

I often wonder how the pioneers of the old west days made it across the country in wagons (not station wagons) and no GPS. The journey you may want to take your organization on will require a detailed plan that identifies the steps necessary to get you there. (That will be your GPS.) This plan should be shared and posted throughout the organization so it is visible to all. Encourage questions; if they're asking, they're learning. They may also have valuable input to make the journey easier. It should be a shared responsibility for the execution of the plan, but with responsibility comes accountability. All assignees of tasks or activities must be responsible and accountable for their actions or in-actions. Progress should be updated routinely so the organization knows where they are on the journey. Although there are some that still manage to get lost with a GPS in hand, let's just enjoy their contributions . . . they're fun to watch.

Number 5: Whatever you do, never establish Metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). It works hand in hand with Number 6, that pesky opportunity to ask questions or to supply answers (factual or not) and then, of course, that dreadful accountability issue.

Each organization must establish Metrics or Key Performance Indicators to monitor their progress, identify their successes and failures, and set measurable standards. Numerous publications and Web sites have hundreds of these indicators available. Pick the ones that fit right for your organization. Train all on how to interrupt the information and how their activities affect the measurement. Share the information across the organization; again, if they're asking, they're learning. These should be considered the organizational behavior drivers. Explain them, measure them, post them, and treasure them.

Number 4: Never audit; it only makes people nervous and uncomfortable. They know what they are doing; after all, they have been doing it this way for years. Everyone knows we have refined everything and there are no remaining improvement opportunities left.

I have seen people visibly shake just by saying the word "audit." For some reason when we audit activities or processes, people tend to take it as a personal audit. Organizations must embrace auditing as part of the continuous improvement and growth process. How can one improve without measuring what has or has not been achieved, and auditing to ensure the defined processes where followed? The goal of auditing should be to ensure the processes are sound and the results are what the organization desires. Now, continuous improvement processes can be applied and yield positive results. There's always room for improvement; we just have to go find it.

Number 3: Don't waste time planning and scheduling maintenance activities. The message that planning saves you big dollars is folklore. This myth and folklore was even told around the camp fires at consultant's camp.

Everyone realizes planning is important; in fact, it has become so important that in many organizations, everyone is focusing some amount of time on maintenance planning. Unfortunately, it's with most of the wrong roles involved. What's seen in numerous organizations is that maintenance managers, maintenance supervisors, and even maintenance crafts are consumed throughout their days planning work. Now, for those organizations that have dedicated maintenance planners, well they spend their days finding parts, compiling reports, and sometimes fetching coffee for those planning. It's been repeatedly proven that planning saves money, but not when everyone is doing it. A trained and dedicated planner can plan for up to 30 maintenance crafts, save money, and allow maintenance managers and supervisors to dedicate themselves to their respective roles. If you do not have a dedicated planner, add a line item in your plan to establish one. It's easy money to be saved. Now, if you're one of those rare breeds that think money is evil, feel free to send all that offending money directly to me.

Number 2: Never invest in a CMMS or EAM; they provide a focal point for data collection. Everyone knows data is bad; it's difficult to tell your story when the data says different. This also works hand in hand with those pesky questions and accountability things we all hate.

Every organization that has a maintenance budget, maintenance resources, or would like the opportunity to find cost savings measures, must have this tool. Maintenance is an extremely repetitive business; however, we fail to recognize or even look for the frequency of the repetition. Let me put that into other terms: We act surprised in new ways each time the same things happen to us again and again. This tool is necessary for successful work management, inventory management, and maintenance management. Your Metrics or KPIs should come as a direct result of the utilization of this tool. This is your site's historical archive and if data is harvested routinely, it's a crystal ball of your future. Think GPS for maintenance here.

Number 1: We don't need to do anything, after all we have been around a long time, and will be around for a long time in the future . . . right?

In today's competitive and global market, just doing what we have always done will only lead to disappointment and perhaps a 20-second blurb on CNN or Fox news. The best analogy I have ever heard is, "If we are not green and growing, we're brown and dying," and I heard it years before being "green" was a popular term. What have you got to lose? Go try and make a change for the better in your organization, and remember if you take two steps forward and one step back... well, at least you have most of the dance steps for the electric slide mastered.

No animals were harmed in the writing of this article. Continuing to do what you have always done may cause indigestion, heart burn, insomnia, cramps, disgruntled employees, unemployment, upset stockholders, or, even Chapter 11...

About the author:
Dave Bertolini is a Managing Principal with People and Processes, Inc., a firm that specializes in changing cultures from reactive to proactive though the optimization of people and processes. He has over 30 years experience in improvement initiatives, and has led over 300 improvement initiatives and implementations for facilities, municipalities, and manufacturing environments. He is recognized as an industry expert in the implementation and utilization of Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS). In addition, he routinely conducts educational seminars on Best Practices, and CMMS selection, implementation and utilization.

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