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A Journey to Shape Reliability Excellence at BMS - Part 2

Part 1, published in Uptime Magazine’s December/January 2016 issue, discussed the initial implementation of Uptime Elements at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS), including an exercise in which our sites prioritized the elements to determine our path going forward as a company. As we wrapped up our exercise, the sites were challenged with taking this framework back to perform similar exercises and integrate the framework into their local strategies. Part 2 demonstrates how the adoption of a common framework translates at the site level and how the unique use of this framework begins to drive the culture at BMS.

Read Part 1

Figure 1: Uptime Elements prioritization developed at the Reliability Excellence Conference, October 2014

We left our conference with a sense of urgency and unity inspired by what our common path forward looked like and the opportunity ahead. Like any other amazingly inspirational and motivational moment within an organization, this one left us questioning afterward how to continue the momentum gained. How do we keep this going without losing steam and, more importantly, how do we take this new framework back to our sites and incorporate it? As a leader, your role is to set a vision, provide capability and, most importantly, get out of the way. The central team was to work on the elements prioritized by the team to develop the centrally governing base elements, but not to do so at a level that would impede progress and continuous improvement at the sites. Our approach was to wait. Wait for the sites to digest the framework and hopefully run with it.

And so we waited, not knowing if the sites had gone back and simply decided the framework had little value or if they were going to adopt it. Why did we wait? Simple, we were trying to create something bigger, something more than tasks, more than initiatives, something organic. We waited to ensure the sites would develop ownership of the framework, or not. Because only with a sense of ownership could we create a culture of empowerment. We planted a seed and were waiting for a grassroots, culturally aligned organization to sprout up and declare their independence as a unified community focused on reliability. And so we waited.

And listened. During our biweekly meetings where we discuss ongoing initiatives both at the sites and centrally, we hoped to hear progress. Sites are on a rotating schedule to deliver to the global community their current progress and any benefits realized, including details on implementation, struggles, lessons learned and next steps. Week after week went by, the anticipation turned into anxiety, and maybe even a bit of worry. Changing the direction of our strategy by implementing a new framework and doing so as described in Part 1 of this article presents some risk. It was time to see if the risk was going to pay off or cause confusion.

Still waiting….waiting….then….spark, there it was. After four months of waiting, in March 2015, a site presented its initiatives and tied them to our community-developed prioritized elements. The site specifically detailed how its initiatives tied to the elements, demonstrating with communication boards throughout the site where the Uptime Elements were posted. A spark.

That’s typically all it takes for a revolution. An adopter to an ideal, not the central driver, allowing others to see more clearly the potential that change can offer and providing the motivation to do so. The next month, we saw a breakthrough. Not only did this site provide its alignment with the global priorities, it did something we never even thought of – they showed creativity and ownership of the framework. There it was on the screen, an adaptation of the framework presented graphically. But more than that, it was an articulation of the site’s path going forward from one element to the next covering more than three years. The plan was graphically represented as a pyramid and then detailed across a timeline with a plan for each element over the three-year period. The strategy, whole and complete, utilizes the framework, is owned locally and is easily communicated.

Figure 2: BMS Syracuse’s strategy pyramid

From the time we began, it seemed like forever for the central team to see adoption, ownership and commitment to the framework, but in reality, it was immediate. In speaking to our sites recently in preparation for this article, we found that all teams went back to their sites after our global conference and immediately began working on similar exercises. Most sites decided at the conference or on the way home that they were on a mission to align their efforts with the elements, discover opportunities and build a reliability infrastructure. As stated by one individual, “The first time I saw the Uptime Elements framework was an eye opener, like putting a face to a name. Immediately, we started working on a plan that would bridge what we were doing at the site and the Uptime Elements framework. It was simple, self-explanatory and easy to explain to others.”

Each site went through its own journey, separate but independently similar. Some started from the ground up, others from senior management down, but in the end, the steps seemed to align in an organic way. All had the same steps in common: Reviewing the framework, site initiatives and areas of opportunity, and then, similar to the global team, prioritizing the elements and aligning them to their strategy. This took some time to coordinate, review, finalize, develop a working strategy around and create communications for the global team. All the while the central team was sweating it out.

Over the course of the next few months, much was the same from site to site. Each site approached the use of the Uptime Elements with a unique twist. We were all utilizing the same framework to come up with aligned, but unique, approaches to articulate our efforts. Each site leveraged the elements in similar, but very different ways. The organic nature of the elements (no pun intended) enabled the sites to link individual goals while aligning to corporate goals. This alignment was important to the overall reliability excellence direction of the company.

Figure 3: Example of site strategy using Uptime Elements

It is critical that the system you choose allows for everyone to leverage its structure while having individual creative freedom to develop solutions they can align behind. The Uptime Elements happen to provide a holistic approach to reliability that can be easily incorporated into your existing goals and facilitate further development and alignment of future goals. As you develop your strategy, it is important to have both structure and guided direction, but it is equally important when dealing with multiple groups to allow for the creative freedom necessary to instill a sense of ownership.

The ability to have complete creative freedom while being restrained to a defined approach is something this particular framework facilitates. One site started tagging all their projects with a correlating element. More than one site actually created new elements, such as Em (Energy Management), Ewu (Energy Work Unit) and Km (Knowledge Management). This demonstrated to us that the sites had grabbed ahold of the elements and taken steps beyond the core understanding. Only an excitement and true adoption of ideas would result in the expansion of this framework. Some groups even experimented with creating compounds from the elements, for example, if all conditions were not ideal or at minimal present, this element expansion would not occur. The framework provides an infrastructure, a foundation that enables success, but also can support both vertical and horizontal growth where an organization needs it. As the sites continue to spread this knowledge to more and more individuals the responses are best summarized as, “A powerful tool with great visual impact” and “An easy way to explain our way.”

Figure 4: Example of site strategy using Uptime Elements

While we discuss this in terms of the framework’s use, the key to this culture is a unified approach to communications, a common terminology and a clear vision for where we are going. The framework in and of itself does not drive this, but can facilitate it. What is driving this change is our people – a team dedicated to creating a culture of reliability, but using a framework to do so.

Creating a culture of reliability offers the ability to take full advantage of your team’s potential. One site leader, when asked about the benefits seen, said: “The most significant benefit was the engagement of the entire maintenance team.” Can you imagine the power of having the entire team engaged? Not only can you achieve results, but you begin to create something very special.

An organic culture has emerged within the company due to the sites utilizing a unified approach to articulate the strategy. It is a culture that is supportive, nurturing and spreads like wildfire as our team members feed off one another’s creative input and successes. There is an environment of complete cooperation across boundaries and silos, one of knowledge sharing and not self-protection, and one where input from all over the world is welcomed, respected and discussed openly in an effort for the entire company to benefit.

So what are you waiting for? Anyone can plant this seed in their organization and it will grow with a little care and nutrition. Fortunately for you, there is an enormous network that can help you find that nutrition. Create connections inside this amazing industry full of professionals who genuinely look to help one another. Take that first step, be a leader, drive change, share the Uptime Elements framework within your organization and wait for a spark.

It’s an exciting time at BMS in terms of reliability. To continue to foster this culture, we have set some goals for spreading the understanding of our framework. In the next installment, we will look at the role of the central team’s effort to align with our strategy.

Continue to part 3


George Williams y Robert Bishop

George Williams, CRL, CMRP, es Director Asociado, Gerente de Activos, Servicios Globales en Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS). George tiene un máster en Ingeniería de Confiabilidad de la Universidad Monash y ha trabajado en BMS por 15 años. Comenzó su carrera en BMS como técnico de mantenimiento y ha ejercido varios cargos de creciente responsabilidad.

Robert Bishop, CRL, CMRP,es Ingeniero de Mantenimiento en Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS) en Syracuse, NY. Rob tiene una licenciatura en Ingeniería Mecánica de la Universidad de Rochester y un máster en Bioingeniería de la Universidad de Syracuse. Rob ha trabajado en BMS por más de nueve años en varios cargos de soporte de equipos. Es un early adopter y le encanta mejorar los sistemas y la cultura.

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